Pristine Cold War-era wiretapping rooms uncovered in Slovenian hotel

Hotel JamaFour hidden communications-surveillance compartments which are believed to date back to the Cold War, have been found in one of the most prestigious hotels of the former Yugoslavia. The discovery was made during an extensive renovation project that was recently completed in the Hotel Jama. The hotel is located in the southeastern Slovenian city of Postojnska, near the Italian border. For over a century, Postojnska has been famous for its network of limestone caves, which are among the largest in the world. Eager to cater to Italian, Austrian and other Western tourists, the government of Yugoslavia began construction on Hotel Jama in 1969. The hotel opened its doors in 1971, amidst much publicity and fanfare. It eventually became known as one of the most luxurious hotels in the communist world.

As the hotel’s reputation soared, the government of Yugoslavia began hosting foreign dignitaries there. Though socialist, the government of Yugoslavia never became an integral member of the communist bloc, preferring a policy of nonalignment. Because of that, it was courted by both East and West, with many Western leaders and other officials visiting the country regularly. On many occasions, they would use Hotel Jama as a retreat. Numerous world leaders stayed there with their entourage, escorted by Yugoslavia’s longtime communist leader Josip Broz, known commonly as Tito.

Today the hotel is situated on the territory of Slovenia, a small mountainous state of two million people, which declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. The regional instability caused by the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s nearly demolished Slovenia’s tourism industry, and Hotel Jama was forced to declare bankruptcy. In 2010, under new ownership, the hotel underwent major renovations. These were completed in 2016, when the hotel opened its doors to the public once again. It was during these renovations that construction crews discovered the surveillance rooms. The four compartmented rooms were found behind a large door made of steel at the back of the hotel, and are adjacent to a network of limestone caves, for which the area is famous.

News reports said the four rooms feature 1970s-era wiretapping equipment, most of which appears to be in pristine condition. There is a thick layer of dust over all the surfaces, which indicates that the rooms have not been used in several decades. The construction crews also found sets of cables that run from the surveillance compartments to several guest rooms in the hotel’s original wing that dates to the early 1970s.

Experts suggest that the rooms were built in the early stages of the hotel’s construction in the late 1960s. The equipment was probably operated by the State Security Service (SDB), Yugoslavia’s internal security police. It is believed that the surveillance facilities were used to facilitate the systematic wiretapping of foreign dignitaries and delegations that frequented the hotel during the Cold War. Hotel Jama’s administration said on Wednesday that there are plans to turn the surveillance rooms into part of an exhibit on the Cold War history of the establishment.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 13 April 2017 | Permalink

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Weapon used in Paris attacks was purchased in the United States

M92 Zastava PistolOne of the guns used by Islamist militants to attack locations in downtown Paris on November 13 was purchased legally through a dealer in the United States, according to a report by the Associated Press. Investigators have confirmed that several of the weapons used in the attack, which killed 130 and injured hundreds more, were manufactured in Serbia. Most are slightly modified versions of the Soviet-era AK-47, known in the West as “shortened Kalashnikov”. All were produced in a weapons factory called Zastava, which is located in the city of Kragujevac, in central Serbia. They were made in the 1980s and sold within the former Yugoslavia.

Last Thursday, however, the director of the Zastava factory, Milojko Brzakovic, told the Associated Press that he had contacted authorities in France to inform them that one of the weapons used in the Paris attacks was made in his factory and sold to a US dealer. It was an M92 semi-automatic pistol, which had been legally sold to an American online arms seller called Century Arms in May 2013. The seller, based in the state of Florida, is believed to import tens of thousands of weapons from the Zastava factory each year. Brzakovic said the M92 could only fire single shots, and was thus in accordance with American law. It sells for less than $500 a piece in the US, he said.

When asked how the weapon got into the hands of militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Brzakovic said he had no idea. He told the Associated Press that all guns exports by Zastava to Century Arms and other American weapons dealers are in strict compliance with US government regulations. Someone, he said, must have illegally modified the weapon into an automatic at a later stage. Brzakovic also said he had no idea how the weapon left America and ended up in France. All weapons exports from the US must be approved by the US Department of State, he said, so the M92 pistol must have made its way to Europe illegally.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 16 December 2015 | Permalink | News tip: R.W.

Revealed: German neo-Nazi who helped Palestinians was CIA agent

Willi Pohl, a.k.a. Willi VossBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A German far-right militant, whose animosity against Jews led him to aid Palestinians kill Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich massacre, says he was later recruited by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Willi Pohl, also known as Willi Voss, 68, was arrested by German authorities a few weeks after Palestinian terrorist group Black September stormed the Olympic village in Munich and took hostage 11 Israeli athletes. All of them were eventually killed by their captors during a botched escape attempt at the nearby Fürstenfeldbruck airport. Voss, who was a known neo-Nazi activist at the time, was charged with possession of weapons and providing logistical support to the Black September militants. However, after his sentence was suspended, Voss managed to secretly emigrate to Beirut, Lebanon, where he was recruited as an agent of Jihaz el-Razd, the intelligence service of the Fatah, the main group in the Palestine Liberation Organization. But in 1975, while on a PLO mission in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, he decided to switch sides. He made the decision after discovering that the car he and his girlfriend were transporting on behalf of the PLO from Beirut to Belgrade contained weapons and highly unstable explosives. He says that the PLO had apparently failed to mention the existence of the hidden items when they asked him to transport the car to Europe. According to Voss’ new book, which has just been published in Germany under the title UnterGrund (Underground), the guns and explosives were discovered by customs officers in Romania (then Rumania); but because at that time the communist country was an ally of the PLO, Voss and his girlfriend were allowed to travel to Belgrade, minus the car and the weapons. Read more of this post

Comment: Are Clinton’s Cyberattack Protests Hypocritical?

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS* | intelNews.org |
The Chinese have accused the US government of hypocrisy in criticizing Beijing for its alleged role in organized hacking attacks, which recently drove Google to abandon its operations in China. Speaking last Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argued that “[c]ountries or individuals that engage in cyberattacks should face consequences and international condemnation”. But a subsequent editorial in government-owned The People’s Daily essentially said that China is not the only country that engages in cyberwarfare; the US does it too. Is this true? Most likely, yes. Read more of this post

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

News you may have missed #0105

  • Trial of Serb former intelligence chiefs opens today. The trial of Jovica Stanišić, Director of Serbia’s State Security Service from 1990 until 1998, and Stojan Župljanin, commander of the Bosnian Serb police during the Bosnian war, opens today at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in The Hague. As intelNews has reported before, at least two eponymous CIA agents have admitted that Stanišić was a CIA collaborator from 1991 until 1998.
  • Lithuanian Prime Minister was KGB agent, says board. A Lithuanian commission tasked with uncovering pro-Moscow informants and intelligence agents during the country’s communist period, has concluded that Kazimira Danutė Prunskienė, Lithuania’s first Prime Minister after the country’s 1990 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union, secretly collaborated with the Soviet KGB.
  • Congo says it won’t execute Norwegian alleged spies. Norway’s foreign minister says he has been assured that the two Norwegians who were sentenced to death by a Congolese military tribunal last week on spying charges will not be executed.

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Analysis: Ex-CIA Agent Involved in Arms Scandal

Imants Liepiņš

Imants Liepiņš

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has heard allegations that a retired agent of the CIA was instrumental in facilitating a vast diamonds-for-arms smuggling operation on behalf of Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. Taylor, who headed the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), became the country’s President in 1997. He is currently held by the United Nations in The Hague, pending trial for crimes against humanity. Roger D’Onofrio Ruggiero, an Italian-American 40-year veteran of the CIA, worked with Charles Taylor and others to channel diamonds into Europe through a number of front-companies. According to the allegations, D’Onofrio helped organize the smuggling operation with Ibrahim Bah, a Senegalese with Libyan connections, who was connected with D’Onofrio in the 1970s, when the former was funded by the CIA to join the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the war against the Soviet Red Army. In the early 1990s, Bah, who by then had established al-Qaeda connections, became Charles Taylor’s “Minister for Mineral Resources”, a post that enabled him to handle the majority of NPFL’s diamonds-for-arms deals. Read article →