In late 1943 SS commando Otto Skorzeny, known as “the most dangerous man in Europe,” was tasked by Hitler with a daunting mission: kill Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill, the Big Three, in Tehran, Iran. The bold plan, code-named Unternehmen Weitsprung (Operation Long Jump), might even have succeeded but for the efforts of Allied intelligence services. Below is the story of Ivan Agayants, Soviet NKVD resident in Tehran, who played a key role in foiling Berlin’s assassination plot.
In the old Soviet action film Tehran-43, the fearless and sexy intelligence officer sent from Moscow to Iran’s capital with a special mission dashingly neutralized Hitler’s terrorists, who were preparing the assassination of Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. In that film there are three truths. The first: At the end of 1943 in Tehran, the Big Three Conference took place. The second truth: the fascists were preparing an assassination attempt on the leaders of the USSR, USA, and Great Britain. And the third: Soviet intelligence liquidated the terrorists. Continue reading Stopping Skorzeny
The Soviet KGB’s elite Ninth Directorate was responsible for leadership protection and well as guarding the Kremlin, Communist Party headquarters and other special sites. Learn how the KGB created not only the world’s top intelligence and counterintelligence services, but also a first-class bodyguard unit.
A study of the history of personal protection in the USSR shows a clear tendency: if a good relationship developed between the principal and the chief of a detail, then the latter stayed loyal to him to the end, even after his death. And the other way around: arrogance, fault-finding, and ingratitude in communication with officers of the security detail could, at a tough moment, leave the leader of a vast country alone with his problems and his enemies.
Continue reading Inside the Kremlin Guard
Before the murder of John F. Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald – or even possibly a double – visited the Soviet embassy in Mexico City. Retired KGB Lt. Gen. Nikolai Leonov, then on assignment in Mexico’s capital as an intelligence officer, met Oswald that day, and he has little doubt the young American was just a pawn in a much wider plot.
An intelligence officer’s workdays were full of work with active agent networks, with those who had been brought into partnership with Soviet intelligence by previous shifts of our colleagues, and with agents arriving from other countries, etc.
Continue reading Oswald & the KGB in Mexico
Turkish warlord Enver Pasha (1881-1922) was not only the architect of the Armenian genocide, but also a key player in the early twentieth-century Great Game. A consummate intriguer, Enver attempted forging a Pan-Turkic empire in Central Asia, where he would meet his death at the hands of the Red Army.
The assassination of Enver Pasha cannot be called a special operation in the full sense of the word. It was sooner a special military operation carried out by the forces of the army and special services. But we can form a conception of how Soviet power was established in Central Asia, and by what methods, on its example.
Continue reading The Demise of Enver Pasha
While it is known that German intelligence targeted Soviet leader Josef Stalin during World War II, how close did they come to succeeding? The following tells the story of SS Operation Zeppelin and the brilliant counter-moves, known as Operation Fog, undertaken by Soviet military counterintelligence (SMERSH) officer Grigorii Grigorenko, who would go on to head the KGB Second Chief Directorate during the Cold War.
Much has been said and written about the attempt to liquidate Stalin during the Second World War—at the same time, nothing specific, but rather things at the level of speculation or fiction.
The failed assassination of the Supreme Commander of the Soviet Union, planned by German saboteurs, is a thrilling subject, after all. And they indeed planned to kill him. However, the story of capturing terrorist saboteurs turned into the prequel to one of the most successful operations by Soviet counter-intelligence, codenamed Fog and carried out by Major Grigorii Fedorovich Grigorenko, a resident of Poltava, today’s Ukraine. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) recently declassified this operation.
Continue reading Hitler’s Plot to Assassinate Stalin
Aleksandr Ogorodnik, known as “Trigon” by his CIA handlers, was a Soviet diplomat who was lured into spying for Washington through sexual compromise – a honey trap. Historian Aleksandr Sever provides the inside story of how the KGB Second Chief Directorate (Counterintelligence) tracked and captured Ogorodnik, as well as speculation on his mysterious demise.
Among the CIA agents unmasked by the KGB, Aleksandr Ogorodnik occupies a special place. It was this man who became the main antagonist in a ten-part Soviet television series. The story of Aleksandr Ogorodnik, as shown on TV screens, was close to what happened in real life. The plot of the TV movie TASS is Authorized to Announce was written on the basis of investigation materials, and Chekists [KGB officers], active participants in the operation to expose the American spy, functioned as consultants. It’s understandable that in the picture the action occurred in a made-up foreign state and the traitor was a nondescript individual, while the basic attention of the viewers was focused on the main positive and negative personages – KGB and CIA officers. Behind the scenes, there remained a multitude of important details of this “noisy” affair.
Continue reading The Death of Trigon
Soviet intelligence experts Aleksandr Kolpakidi and Dmitry Prokhorov tell of the Soviet-Yugoslav split in 1948 and its fallout – Stalin’s plans to assassinate Yugoslavia’s Communist leader, Josip Broz Tito.
The establishment of Soviet control over the countries of Eastern Europe in the postwar years took place in a very tense environment. But if Communists of the Stalinist interpretation in Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Albania attained total victory, in Yugoslavia the triumphal march of Stalinism didn’t happen. As a result, at the end of the 1940s relations between the USSR and Yugoslavia were so poisoned that Soviet intelligence received the order from Stalin to liquidate Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito by any means.
Continue reading Targeted for Liquidation: Tito
On the drizzly autumn Friday of November 11th, 1983, US President Ronald Reagan would have no time for his customary Oval Office nap. Besides delivering a speech that morning to the American Legion in honor of Veterans Day, Reagan then filled the rest of his schedule taking part in a NATO nuclear war exercise under the designation Able Archer. The president found the subject matter fascinating but frightening; despite his firebrand speeches, he also hoped the Soviets understood they had nothing to fear from America. His hope was in vain.
In Moscow, General Secretary Yuri Andropov saw Reagan’s role in Able Archer, underscored by America’s recent invasion of Grenada and a worldwide security alert of US forces, as the cover for a nuclear first strike. Escorted early after a freezing sunrise along with chief of the General Staff Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov to the Politburo’s subterranean command bunker by his elite KGB troops, with crushing sadness and dread Andropov transmitted his directive, a desperate attempt to minimize the looming devastation his country faced.
Continue reading KGB Spetsnaz & World War III
Vympel, the KGB’s spetsnaz group for overseas action, was a unit forged, in the words of its initiator KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov, “without equal.” The following text outlines Vympel’s founding, the unit’s training process, and its general operational history.
The idea for founding a commando unit for the KGB belongs to the chief of Directorate S (Illegals) Yuri Drozdov, one of the men who directed the storm of Afghan President Hafizullah Amin’s palace. Returning from Moscow, he went to KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov and presented him with a plan to create a special-purpose group for carrying out operations during the “special period” – in short, a commando unit.
Continue reading Vympel: The KGB’s Sword Abroad
The FBI’s recent arrest of several alleged deep-cover Russian intelligence officers, also known as “illegals”, has provoked astonishment in the media. As if U.S. intelligence agencies would ever dream of carrying out covert work in Russia! Since the memory span of reporters and pundits rarely extends beyond a few weeks, perhaps this is understandable. But it should come as no surprise that spying remains an important tool of statecraft. As exemplified by the illegals, the Russians are top players in the game of human intelligence.
Continue reading The Illegals: Russia’s Elite Spies