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

News you may have missed #706

Akhmed ZakayevBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►UK government accuses Chechen of assassination plot. The British government and intelligence services have accused an alleged henchman of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov of seeking to assassinate Akhmed Zakayev, a prominent exiled Chechen politician in London, who was granted asylum there in 2003. According to court documents, British government lawyers asking to deport a 45-year-old, Chechen-born, former elite soldier, referred to only as E1. They told judges that E1 was a threat to national security and had been implicated in a 2009 assassination on behalf of Mr Kadyrov in Vienna. Mr Zakayev, a former actor and self-described separatist leader, said in a recent interview that he believed “there are more Russian spies in Britain today than there were during the Cold War”.
►►Israeli ex-soldiers arrested in Colombia on drugs charges. Eight Israelis have been arrested in Colombia on suspicion of drug trafficking, money laundering and exploitation of minors, the country’s chief prosecutor has told local media outlets. The suspects, who were described in the reports as “former military men”, include former Israeli army Lt. Col. Yair Klein, who was convicted by a Colombian court and sentenced in absentia to nearly 11 years in prison for training drug traffickers’ assassins in the late 1980s. US and British investigations determined two decades ago that Klein was also involved in smuggling 400 Galil assault rifles and 100 Uzi sub-machine guns bought from Israeli into Colombia in 1989 when his plans to create a mercenary-ran training camp on the Caribbean island of Antigua unraveled.
►►Lawyer alleges MI6 agent was killed by ‘secret services’. A coroner has been told that Gareth Williams, an MI6 spy found dead inside a locked duffle bag in his London apartment could have been killed by someone who specialized in “the dark arts of the secret services”. The allegation was made by Anthony O’Toole, who represented the Williams family at an interim hearing ahead of the full inquest into Gareth Williams’ death. O’Toole said that there was “a high probability that there was a third party present in the flat” at the time. He added that “the unknown third party was a member of some agency specializing in the dark arts of the secret services, and perhaps evidence was removed from the scene post mortem by an expert in those dark arts”.

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

Austrian probe finds Chechen president behind Vienna killing

Ramzan Kadyrov

Ramzan Kadyrov

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A report by Austrian government officials has found that the Moscow-appointed President of Chechnya ordered the 2009 assassination in Vienna of a Chechen dissident, who had been given political asylum by Austrian authorities. In 2009, Umar Israilov, who was once a bodyguard of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, alleged in Vienna and in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg that Kadyrov had “personally participated in the torture of detainees”. But on January 13, 2009, Israilov was shot dead by two men in broad daylight outside a grocery store located less than two miles from Vienna’s historic city center. Now the Vienna Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism has said in a detailed report that Israilov’s murder was a political assassination ordered personally by Chechen President Kadyrov, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Read more of this post

Russia accuses Georgia of aiding al-Qaeda in North Caucasus

Dagestan

Dagestan

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
It may not make headlines in Western media, but Russia’s low-intensity war in Chechnya and Dagestan continues, with scores of separatists and government agents dying on an almost daily basis. Last week, Vyacheslav Shanshin the Dagestan regional director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, announced the killing by FSB agents of Makhmoud Mokhammed Shaaban. Egyptian-born Shaaban is said to have co-founded the al-Qaeda network in the Russian North Caucasus, along with Saudi-born Ibn al-Khattab, whom the FSB managed to poison in 2002, with the help of a double agent. Shanshin also said that, like al-Khattab, Shaaban was partially funded and equipped by the Georgian secret services. Read more of this post

Russia accuses Georgian intelligence of aiding Islamists

A.V. Bortnikov

A.V. Bortnikov

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, has accused Georgian intelligence and security services of aiding anti-Moscow militants in Russia’s southern republics. Speaking before Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committee on Tuesday, Alexander V. Bortnikov said that the FSB’s counterintelligence department had seized a number of “audio reports” from Islamist militants active in the Russian Caucasus, which allegedly show that a number of “al-Qaeda emissaries” mediate between militants in Russia and “Georgian special services”. The latter, said Bortnikov, train militants from Chechnya, Dagestan and North Caucasus, and supply them with funds, weapons and explosives. But the Washington-based Radio Free Europe has quoted David Bakradze, the speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, as denying Bortnikov’s “groundless” allegations. Read more of this post

Chechnya President says US, UK spies active in region

Ramzan Kadyrov

Ramzan Kadyrov

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The pro-Moscow President of Russia’s Chechen Republic has accused American and British intelligence services of collaborating with Muslim separatists in the region, in order to “split [Russia] apart”. Speaking to conservative newspaper Zavtra, President Ramzan Kadyrov said Russian government forces are “fighting in the mountains [against] the American and English intelligence agencies”. Asked to elaborate, Kadyrov alleged he had personally seen the US driver license of a CIA operative who was shot dead during a security operation he led. Kadyrov’s comments mark the first public allegation by a Russian government official of Western intelligence activity in the Russian Caucasus. Read more of this post

Dubai police say Russian parliamentarian ordered murder

Yamadayev

Yamadayev

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Police officials in the United Arab Emirates said last weekend that Chechnya’s ex-Prime Minister and “close ally of the Chechen president” was behind the March 31 assassination of a former Chechen separatist living in Dubai. Speaking to reporters, Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan bin Tamim, chief of Dubai’s police, said Adam S. Delimkhanov, who is currently a Member of Parliament in Russia, “is the man behind the assassination of Sulim B. Yamadayev”. Yamadayev was a Chechen rebel commander who fought against Moscow in the 1990s, but in 1999 switched sides and headed an elite pro-Moscow paramilitary squad that targeted the separatists. Last spring, however, after Yamadayev fell out with pro-Moscow Chechen President Ramzan A. Kadyrov, Moscow issued an arrest warrant against him for the 1998 abduction of a Chechen entrepreneur. Shortly after one of his brothers was shot dead in Moscow, Yamadayev moved to the United Arab Emirates. On March 31, however, less than four months after his relocation to Dubai, Yamadayev was shot several times in the head outside the Jumeirah Beach apartment complex in which he lived. He thus became the latest target in a recent wave of assassinations of former Chechen commanders by mysterious assailants, who many suspect are commissioned by the Russian intelligence services.  Read more of this post

Video alleges Moscow policy of assassinating Chechen expats

Khadirov

Khadirov

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Just days after the latest mysterious assassination of a former Chechen commander in Turkey, a video has surfaced on YouTube in which a Chechen man reveals how he was tasked by pro-Moscow authorities in Chechnya with killing a pro-independence Chechen leader in Norway. The two-minute video features Ruslan Khalidov, who claims he is a nephew of Shaa Turlayev, a prominent former bodyguard of the late Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov. Maskhadov was assassinated by Russian FSB agents in 2005. Khalidov states that he was repeatedly tortured by Chechen authorities operating under the instructions of pro-Moscow Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov. He was then blackmailed into agreeing to perform a series of covert tasks in Norway, including providing Norwegian authorities with disinformation on Chechen expats in Norway, and assassinating Magomed Ocherhadji, a vocal pro-independence Chechen community leader based in the Scandinavian country. Read more of this post

Russian intelligence suspected in new killing of Chechen in Turkey

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Another assassination of a former Chechen insurgent living in Turkey has been reported. This time it was Musa Atayev (also known as Ali Osaev), 48, who was killed in Zeytinburnu, Istanbul, with three shots to the head from a gun equipped with a silencer. Atayev’s assassination was the third such killing in five months. In September of 2008, Gazhi Edilsutanov was also shot in the head in Istanbul’s Başakşehir suburb, while last December Islam Dzhanibekov was shot and killed in front of his home in the Turkish commercial capital’s Ümraniye district. Notably, all three Chechens were reportedly shot from a close range with a single action 7.62 MSP pistol. This type of weapon has been traditionally favored by the KGB and its successor agencies since the early 1970s, mainly due to its small size and relatively silent operation. Read more of this post

Vienna is world’s largest espionage hub, say experts

Vienna

Vienna

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A few months ago, a federal office under Austria’s Interior Ministry published a report on foreign intelligence activity in the country, in which it predicted that “Austria will remain an operational area for foreign intelligence agencies […], which will account for a consistently high number of intelligence agents”. An article in German newspaper Die Welt explains that not only does post-Cold-War Vienna continue to be “a spy hub between East and West”, but the Austrian capital now has “the highest density of [foreign intelligence] agents in the world”. Read more of this post

Russian intelligence suspected in Chechen commander’s assassination in Turkey

Another Chechen former commander has been assassinated abroad and the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) is once again suspected of having carried out the assassination. This time it was Islam Dzhanibekov (Canibekof, in Turkish), who had lived in Istanbul, Turkey, since 2002. Dzhanibekov, who was killed on December 9, was reportedly shot from a close range with a single action 7.62 MSP pistol. This type of weapon has been traditionally favored by the KGB and its successor agencies since the early 1970s, mainly due to its small size and relatively silent operation. Read more of this post