Czech police find weapons in house of late Palestinian diplomat

Palestinian diplomatic residence in PragueBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
Authorities in the Czech Republic said they found several weapons in the residence of a Palestinian diplomat who died in a mysterious explosion on New Year’s Day. Jamal al-Jamal, who had assumed the post of Palestinian Ambassador to the Czech Republic in October, died in hospital on Wednesday, having suffered lethal injuries to his chest, abdomen and head. Czech authorities said the 56-year-old was killed by an explosion caused as he opened a safe that had been transferred to his residence from the old Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) offices in downtown Prague. Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Riyad al-Malki said on Wednesday the safe al-Jamal was trying to open at the time of the explosion had come from the old PLO offices in downtown Prague where “no one had touched it for 20 to 25 years”. He added that the blast was triggered just moments after al-Jamal opened the safe in order to record its contents. On Thursday, however, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that several unregistered weapons had been found by police in the official residence of the late diplomat. The statement did not identify the weapons, but Czech government sources expressed concern that the discovery might suggest “a breach in diplomatic rules”. Czech law specifies that all firearms must be registered with the government and permits are compulsory for all who possess them. On Thursday afternoon, US-based news network CNN contacted Czech National Police, and was told by spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova that “several illegal firearms” had been seized by police in al-Jamal’s newly built apartment, located in Prague’s northern suburb of Suchdol. Diplomatic observers will be watching with interest for Prague’s response to these revelations, as the Czech Republic is considered among Israel’s closest allies in the European Union. During the communist era, Czechoslovakia was a staunch ally of the PLO. But successive Czech administrations have sided with Israel in recent years. Read more of this post

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Comment: Russian Espionage Steals 2010 Limelight

GRU emblem

GRU emblem

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
As the first decade of the 21st century is coming to an end, few would dispute that Israeli and American spy agencies have been among the most talked-about intelligence organizations of 2010. The reasons for this are equally undeniable: the United States tops the list because of its political prominence, which inevitably attracts media attention; Israel tops it because of the sheer ferocity of its espionage output throughout the Middle East. And yet there is nothing new about this, since neither the Central Intelligence Agency nor the Mossad are exactly novices when it comes to high-profile media exposures. The same cannot be said with respect to Russian intelligence agencies, which went through a period of prolonged hibernation following the end of the Cold War. Indeed, the year that is about to end demonstrates that the stagnant interlude in Russian espionage may well be in its closing stages.

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Analysis: Russian-Czech spy scandals show new direction in Russian espionage

ÚZSI seal

ÚZSI seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last July saw the resignations of three Czech Generals, including the head of the president’s military office and the country’s representative to NATO, following revelations that one of their senior staffers had a relationship with a Russian spy.  Intelligence observers have become accustomed to frequent reports of Russian-Czech spy scandals in recent years. But, according to reports from Prague, recent Russian intelligence activity in the Czech Republic may indicate a change of direction by Moscow. Some say that Russia’s new espionage doctrine focuses less on military intelligence in the post-US-missile-shield strategic environment, and more on political and economic espionage. To be sure, Russia’s intelligence presence in the Czech capital remains substantial: Czech counterintelligence sources estimate that at least 60 –that is, one in three– Russian diplomats in Prague are engaged in intelligence-related activities. But the intensity of Russian espionage in Prague is not unique. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #378

 

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Iran arrests seven with alleged CIA ties

RFE/RL old HQ

RFE/RL's old HQ

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Iranian government has announced the arrests of seven people linked to a US government-funded radio station, some of whom it says were working for the CIA. The arrests were announced on February 7 by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, which said some of the seven detainees had been “officially hired by US intelligence agencies” and had gone through “a selection and training process in Dubai and Istanbul”, in sabotage and black operations. The radio station in question is Radio Farda, the Farsi-language arm of the US government’s Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which has been broadcasting to Iran from Prague, Czech Republic, its headquarters in Europe, since 2003. According to the Iranian government, the seven detainees participated in fermenting opposition protests that led to the demonstrations in Iran during Ashura, the Shiite day of mourning, on December 27, 2009. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0272

  • Outcry in Turkey over revealed coup plot. Turkish daily Taraf has revealed a military coup plot, which included detailed plans to trigger chaos in the country with the ultimate goal of a military takeover. This appears to be a new plot, not associated with the ongoing Ergenekon coup plot investigation.
  • US jails Sri Lankan LTTE operatives. A US federal court has sentenced Thiruthanikan Thanigasalam and Sahilal Sabaratnam to 25 years in prison for trying to purchase almost $1 million worth of high-powered weaponry for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which the US considers a terrorist organization.
  • Czechoslovakian spy lookout to be opened to public. The bell tower on St. Nicholas’ Church in Prague, where 20 years ago the Czechoslovakian secret police, the StB, kept a hidden lookout on activities outside nearby embassies, especially that of the US, is to be opened to the public later this year.

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Czechs, Russians expel diplomats in escalating spy row

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Russian Foreign Ministry ordered two Czech diplomats out of Russia on Tuesday, one day after the Czech Republic expelled two members of staff of the Russian embassy in Prague. On August 17, Czech websites reported the expulsion of Russia’s deputy military attaché in Prague, and another Russian embassy official, who was told not to return to the Czech Republic from his vacation. The move came after the Czech Military Intelligence Service (VZ) allegedly verified that the two diplomats are paid employees of the Russian secret services. According to one report, VZ was able to establish that the two Russian embassy officials “tried to develop close ties with people from the Czech Defense Ministry and [had] shown a particular interest in the planned construction of a US radar base on Czech soil”, a reference to Washington’s missile defense shield plans for Eastern Europe. Read more of this post