Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Litvinenko's Allegations: Is there a Putin-Osama Connection?

Cover of Allegatons by by the late Alexander Litvinenko (Author), Pavel Stroilov (Editor, Translator), Vladimir Bukovsky (Introduction).

This book cover is a picture taken at an amazing 1998 press conference in Russia. The men in the picture are Russian FSB (formerly KGB) officers, and they are making accusations against Putin and the leaders of their own organization, the FSB, Russia's domestic state security.

Wikipedia explains:

The FSB is engaged mostly in domestic affairs, while espionage duties were taken over by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (former First Chief Directorate of the KGB). However, the FSB also includes the FAPSI agency, which conducts electronic surveillance abroad. In addition, the FSB operates freely within the territories of the former Soviet republics, and it can conduct anti-terrorist military operations anywhere in the World if ordered by the President, according to the recently adopted terrorism law."

The unmasked man on the right in the picture, Aleksandr Litvinenko, is claiming that he was ordered to kill the exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky. I even have used a similar picture in an earlier article I posted about Litvinenko. I have published many articles about this ex-FSB officer on my blog as well as articles about the murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the imprisoned FSB lawyer Mikhail Trepashkin. These people had accused Putin's regime of terrible crimes.

I don't know for sure if what I am posting about Litvinenko is a true or complete picture, because Russian intelligence operations are a very complicated topic. Still, I think what I am describing is largely accurate. The British are investigating the circumstances of Litvinenko's poisoning.

It is depressing to think that the leader of Russia might be a criminal who murders his own people and then hunts down his accusers and assassinates them. Still, this is what Russian rulers have done for generations. Putin was even accused by Litvinenko of complicity in the 1999 bombing of four Russian apartment buildings. These bombings were used as a pretext for the Second Chechen War.

Front Page Magazine has interviewed the translator and editor of Allegations, Pavel Stroilov, a Russian exile who lives in London, since the book's author, Alexander Litvinenko, was poisoned by polonium.

The Frontpage Interview, written by Jamie Glazov, is titled "The Putin-Osama Connection."

Stroilov told Front Page:

While Alexander [Litvinenko] was still alive, he made a number of extremely important allegations. If nothing else, his horrible death itself proves that those allegations should be taken very seriously and investigated most thoroughly....

Alexander revealed, in his articles and interviews included in the Allegations, that at least two notorious Al Qaeda terrorists are secret agents of the FSB – one of whom, Aiman al Zawahiri, is bin Laden’s second-in-command...

As the former leader of the terrorist organisation Egyptian Islamic Jihad, al Zawahiri was on international lists of most wanted terrorists for many years. In 1997, he suddenly re-surfaced in Russia, where he undertook a special training course at a secret FSB base in Dagestan. After that, he was sent to Afghanistan, and joined Al Qaeda as bin Laden’s number two. Meanwhile, the FSB officers who had supervised him in Dagestan were promoted and re-assigned to Moscow. It was from them that Alexander learned about al Zawahiri.

These and other facts of FSB involvement in international terrorism, revealed by Alexander, have tremendous implications. Contrary to the view of many in the US, Russia is anything but a reliable ally of yours in the ‘war on terror’. The Kremlin is playing a treacherous double game: while enjoying the West’s support as ally, it secretly supports and manipulates the Al Qaeda through FSB agents of influence.

...[I]magine what would happen if the truth about Moscow’s hand in organisations like Al Qaeda is made public. It is hardly a very fresh idea that ‘winning hearts and minds’ of the Muslims is the key to victory in the whole ‘war on terror’. To put it mildly, I strongly doubt that revelations about Al Qaeda leaders’ intimate relations with Moscow would boost their popularity. Rather than being ‘lions of Allah’, as they call each other, they would be exposed as moles of Putin. After that, suicide bombers would probably think twice before obeying their orders. But thinking twice is no good in suicide bombers’ profession...

FP: Russian special services are aiding international terrorism. But Islamist terror is also, on some realms, targeting Russia – and has also hit Russia. How do we make sense of all this?

Stroilov: It is not the first time when Russian people and Russian special services find themselves on opposite sides. In fact, Russia is exactly the place where the FSB hand in terrorism, Islamist or otherwise, can be seen most clearly. The ‘Nord-Ost’ story is only one example, and not the brightest one. In 1999, the FSB blew up four apartment blocks in Russia, and then were caught red-handed attempting to blow-up the fifth. After that, they announced that the bomb was a fake (the expert technicians simply mistook sugar for an explosive mixture), and the whole operation was a training exercise. Before that, in mid-1990s, one FSB officer was killed trying to blow up a railroad bridge, and another one was convicted by court for blowing up a bus in Moscow.

Alexander Litvinenko was well-known precisely for his investigation of the FSB terrorism in Russia, particularly the 1999 apartment blocks explosions. A big part of the Allegations is about it, and even more details are given in Blowing-up Russia. Terror from within by Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky.

The FSB is at war with Russian citizens, and that is more than just a figure of speech. They resort to any means in that war. They have created the terrorist threat in Russia, and then ‘defended’ us from it – in exchange for our obedience.

FP: Tell us about the Prime Minister of Italy, Romano Prodi (also former President of the European Commission) and his relations with the KGB.

Stroilov: Romano Prodi was described to Alexander by a senior KGB/FSB colleague, three star General Trofimov, as ‘our man in Italy’. He told Alexander that Prodi had ‘collaborated with the KGB’ and ‘carried out KGB missions’. Moreover, after 1996 the FSB had restored its relations with the old KGB agents of influence in the West. So, Gen. Trofimov and Alexander himself reckoned that Prodi might still be dangerous.

In February 2006, Alexander was interviewed about that by Mario Scaramella, a consultant to the Guzzanti Commission of Italian Parliament, which investigated the KGB’s activities in Italy. The video-record of that interview was kept secret at the time, and intended only for a closed-doors parliamentary investigation. (After Alexander’s death it was made public, and the transcript of it is included in the Allegations.)

However, two months later Alexander encouraged Gerard Batten, Member of European Parliament for London, to make his accusation against Prodi public. Gerard did that on 3 April 2006 in his speech to the European Parliament. The Parliament declined to investigate the matter, as Gerard insisted it should do; nor did Prodi himself ever comment on it as long as Alexander was alive. However, just eight days after Litvinenko’s death, Italian left-wing newspapers ‘revealed’ how Sen. Guzzanti and Scaramella were ‘plotting’ to discredit Prodi by alleging he had links to the KGB. Prodi himself, in a clumsy imitation of fury, announced he would instruct his lawyers to take legal action over these allegations. In event, no such legal action was taken.

Mario Scaramella was arrested as soon as he returned to Italy on Christmas of the same year. He is still kept in prison without a trial, and may stay there for the rest of his life. For the Italian legal system enables the prosecution to keep him in jail for three months on some particular charges, then drop those charges, put forward some new ones, and jail him for another three months. So it goes on and on for a year now, against the background of a perpetual propaganda campaign against Scaramella. Indeed, he is one of the first political prisoners in the emerging Gulag of the EUSSR.

...The actual assassination was perpetrated by a team of at least three people: Andrei Lugovoi, Dmitry Kovtun, and someone who used several false identities and whose real name is unknown. Apparently, Kovtun was responsible for the transportation of the Polonium, Lugovoi – for approaching the target, whom he knew personally, and the third one actually put the poison in Alexander’s cup.

Putin probably had several motives to murder Alexander, the most obvious of which is this. Litvinenko knew too much and, worse still, he tried to let the public know too much. If you pretend to be a valiant fighter against terrorism, and there is a man who knows and talks about your covert links with Al Qaeda, what else would you do? And the Al Qaeda business is only one of the secrets which Alexander knew and revealed.

FP: What interests does Putin have in helping Al Qaeda and other jihadi terror groups?

Stroilov: To stir up trouble, in the world in general and in the Middle East in particular. The most obvious consequence of that are sky-high oil prices, which are both the source of KGB junta’s wealth and the salvation for their regime.

Apart from that economic interest, this is a similar scheme to the one used against Russian citizens. We must stay united in front of the grave terrorist threat, right? It is not the time to reproach Putin for murders, tortures, political prisoners or genocide, is it? We must be realists: we cannot afford a new Cold War against Russia in a situation like that, can we?

That is the reaction they want from you, and regrettably, they have not been quite unsuccessful. [Read the full text of this provocative article.]

Litvinenko would not be the first Russian or East European intelligence officer whose conscience made him speak out. For example, the KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin defected to the British with notes from the KGB archives.

The East German STASI officer, Colonel Rainer Wiegand defected to West Germany in 1989 and devulged the details of East Germany's collaboration with Arab terrorists. In 1996, shortly before he was to be the star witness in the case of the La Belle Discotheque bombing, Colonel Weigand was killed in a suspicious car accident in Portugal [John O. Koehler. Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police. p. 328].

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