Terrorism and the Soviet Union

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The Soviet Union and other communist states were alleged to be a major inspiration for international terrorism.[1] NATO and also the Italian, German and British governments saw violence in the form of "communist fighting organizations" (which operated in western Europe) as a threat.[2][need quotation to verify] There are allegations[by whom?] that the Soviet Union supported these militant groups.[citation needed]

Support for terrorist organizations

According to Soviet defector Grigori Besedovsky, the NKVD was directly coordinating a number of bombings in Poland as early as in 20's. The largest bombing, against Warsaw Citadel on 13 October 1923, destroyed large military ammunition storage facility, killing 28 and wounding 89 Polish soldiers. Another bombing on 23 May 1923 at Warsaw University killed a number of people, including professor Roman Orzęcki. Further bombings happened in Częstochowa, Kraków and Białystok.[3]

Soviet secret services have been described by GRU defectors Viktor Suvorov and Stanislav Lunev as "the primary instructors of terrorists worldwide."[4][5][6] According to Ion Mihai Pacepa, KGB General Aleksandr Sakharovsky once said: "In today’s world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon."[7] He also claimed that "Airplane hijacking is my own invention" and that in 1969 alone, 82 planes were hijacked worldwide by the KGB-financed PLO.[7]

Lt. General Pacepa described operation "SIG" (“Zionist Governments”) that was devised in 1972 to turn the Arab world against Israel and the United States. According to Pacepa, the following organizations received assistance from the KGB and other Eastern Bloc intelligence services: PLO, National Liberation Army of Bolivia (created in 1964 with help from Ernesto Che Guevara), the National Liberation Army of Colombia (created in 1965 with help from Cuba), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1969, and the Secret Army for Liberation of Armenia in 1975.[8]

The leader of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, established close collaboration with the Romanian Securitate service and the Soviet KGB in the beginning of the 1970s.[9] The secret training of PLO guerrillas was provided by the KGB.[10] However, the main KGB activities and arms shipments were channeled through Wadie Haddad of the DFLP organization, who usually stayed in a KGB dacha (BARVIKHA-1) during his visits to the Soviet Union. Led by Carlos the Jackal, a group of PFLP fighters accomplished a spectacular raid on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries office in Vienna in 1975. Advance notice of this operation "was almost certainly" given to the KGB.[9]

The Red Army Faction in Germany was over years the supported by the Stasi, East Germany's security service.[11][12] In 1978 part of the RAF group (Brigitte Mohnhaupt, Peter Boock, Rolf Wagner, Sieglinde Hoffmann) was hiding in Służba Bezpieczeństwa (SB) safe house in the Mazury district in Poland, where they escaped through Yugoslavia. During the stay, they were training together with Arab operatives and also hiding from German police during an intensive search for the group's members in West Germany.[13] Carlos the Jackal and other prominent terrorists, such as Abu Nidal, Abu Daoud and Abu Abbas, enjoyed protection at SB safe houses in Poland, especially in the 1980s. Communist Poland was also used as a transit country for money and weapon transfers for these organisations.[14][15][16][17]

A number of notable operations have been conducted by the KGB to support international terrorists with weapons on the orders from the Soviet Communist Party, including:

Cold war and terrorism

Large-scale sabotage operations may have been prepared by the KGB and GRU in case of war against the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and the rest of Europe, as alleged by intelligence historian Christopher Andrew in Mitrokhin Archive[20] and in books by former GRU and SVR officers Victor Suvorov[6][21] and Stanislav Lunev, and Kouzminov.[22] Among the planned operations were the following:

  • Large arms caches were hidden in many countries for the planned terrorist acts. They were booby-trapped with "Lightning" explosive devices. One of such cache, which was identified by Mitrokhin, exploded when Swiss authorities tried to remove it from woods near Bern. Several others caches (probably not equipped with the "Lightnings") were removed successfully.[23]
  • Preparations for nuclear sabotage. Some of the hidden caches could contain portable tactical nuclear weapons known as RA-115 "suitcase bombs" prepared to assassinate US leaders in the event of war, according to GRU defector Stanislav Lunev.[4] Lunev states that he had personally looked for hiding places for weapons caches in the Shenandoah Valley area[4] and that "it is surprisingly easy to smuggle nuclear weapons into the US" ether across the Mexican border or using a small transport missile that can slip undetected when launched from a Russian airplane.[4]
  • Extensive sabotage plans in London, Washington, Paris, Bonn, Rome, and other Western capitals were revealed by KGB defector Oleg Lyalin in 1971, including a plan to flood the London underground and deliver poison capsules to Whitehall. This disclosure triggered the mass expulsion of Russian spies from London.[24]
  • FSLN leader Carlos Fonseca Amador was described as "a trusted agent" in KGB files. "Sandinista guerrillas formed the basis for a KGB sabotage and intelligence group established in 1966 on the Mexican US border".[25]
  • Disruption of the power supply in all of New York State by KGB sabotage teams, which would be based along the Delaware River, in the Big Spring Park.[26]
  • An "immensely detailed" plan to destroy "oil refineries and oil and gas pipelines across Canada from British Columbia to Montreal" (operation "Cedar") had been prepared, which took twelve years to complete.[27]
  • A plan for sabotage of Hungry Horse Dam in Montana.[26]
  • A detailed plan to destroy the port of New York (target GRANIT); the most vulnerable points of the port were marked on maps.[26]

According to Lunev, a probable scenario in the event of war would be poisoning of the Potomac River with chemical or biological weapons, "targeting the residents of Washington, D.C."[4] He also noted that it is "likely" that GRU operatives have placed already "poison supplies near the tributaries to major US reservoirs."[28] This information was confirmed by Alexander Kouzminov, who was responsible for transporting dangerous pathogens from around the world for the Soviet program of biological weapons in the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. He described a variety of biological terrorist acts that would be carried out on the order of the Russian President in the event of hostilities, including poisoning public drinking-water supplies and food processing plants.[29] At the end of the 1980s, the Soviet Union "was the only country in the world that could start and win a global biological war, something we had already established that the West was not ready for," according to Kouzminov.

See also


  1. Crozier, Brian (2005). Political Victory: The Elusive Prize Of Military Wars. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. p. 202-203. ISBN 9781412831277. Retrieved 2015-07-30. At its height, communism was the major threat to world peace, and by far the major source of international terrorism: that is, communist-inspired and/or communist-supported terrorism. Its hold on terrorist movements was not universal, however [...].<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Paoletti, Ciro (30 December 2007). A military history of Italy. Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0-275-98505-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Grigori Besedovsky (1931). Revelations of a Soviet Diplomat. London. p. 127.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Stanislav Lunev. Through the Eyes of the Enemy: The Autobiography of Stanislav Lunev, Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998. ISBN 0-89526-390-4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Lunev" defined multiple times with different content
  5. Viktor Suvorov Inside Soviet Military Intelligence, 1984, ISBN 0-02-615510-9.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Viktor Suvorov Spetsnaz, 1987, Hamish Hamilton Ltd, ISBN 0-241-11961-8.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Russian Footprints - by Ion Mihai Pacepa, National Review Online, August 24, 2006
  8. From Russia With Terror, FrontPageMagazine.com, interview with Ion Mihai Pacepa, March 1, 2004
  9. 9.0 9.1 The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, pages 250-253
  10. The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, page 145
  11. (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "My Mother, the Terrorist | Germany | DW.COM | 14.03.2006". DW.COM. Retrieved 2015-09-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Röhl, Bettina (2008). Zabawa w komunizm [Making Communism Fun]. ISBN 9788360335963.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Terroryści pod ochroną wywiadu SB". Retrieved 2015-09-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Słynny terrorysta: Polski rząd szkolił naszych ludzi". Retrieved 2015-09-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  16. "The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved 2015-09-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Most: Tajna operacja Mossadu w Polsce - www.Focus.pl - Poznać i zrozumieć świat". Historia.Focus.pl. Retrieved 2015-09-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. KGB in Europe, page 502
  19. This operation was sanctioned personally by Leonid Brezhnev in 1970. The weapons were delivered by the KGB vessel Kursograf - KGB in Europe, pages 495-498
  20. Mitrokhin Archive, The KGB in Europe, page 472-476
  21. Victor Suvorov, Spetsnaz, 1987, Hamish Hamilton Ltd, ISBN 0-241-11961-8
  22. Alexander Kouzminov Biological Espionage: Special Operations of the Soviet and Russian Foreign Intelligence Services in the West, Greenhill Books, 2006, ISBN 1-85367-646-2 [1]
  23. The KGB in Europe, page 475-476
  24. KGB in Europe, page 499-500
  25. The KGB in Europe, page 472-473
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 The KGB in Europe, page 473
  27. The KGB in Europe, page 473-474
  28. Lunev, pages 29-30
  29. Kusminov, pages 35-36.