WikiLeaks documents reveal that Russian operatives may have been tracking the assassins of rogue intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko well before he was poisoned in London in November 2006. The agents apparently wanted to prevent his murder not because they cared for him, which they did not, but because they knew that Moscow would be blamed for the deed. The Russians were warned off by the British secret service, however, which claimed the situation was “under control.” Only weeks later Litvinenko was duly murdered.
The just-released WikiLeaks record of a secret December 2006 meeting between an ex-CIA bureau chief and a former KGB officer belies the mainstream media spin concerning Litvinenko's unsolved murder two weeks earlier—a murder most foul, which the Western media and “regional analysts” have routinely pinned to Vladimir Putin.
Three years ago Great Britain demanded the extradition of one Andrei Lugovoi from Moscow, who British officials claimed was a suspect in Litvinenko’s polonium 210 poisoning. “The thing for Americans to understand about the case is that it takes place in the context of rising Russian disregard for the rule of law,” pontificated The New York Sun at the time. “Time for a row with Russia,” screamed the organ of the neo-Fabian Left, The Guardian:
Russia has to learn that it cannot act with impunity. We need to make our condemnation of Russia’s appalling human rights record clear… We need to complain vigorously about… the mayor of Moscow’s banning of this weekend’s gay pride march… Respect for the rule of law and human rights must underpin Russia’s future and we should not be afraid of ruffling Putin’s feathers.
Ironically it was The Guardian that published a WikiLeaks memo last week, prepared by the US embassy in Paris, which records an “amicable” December 7 2006 dinner meeting between ambassador-at-large Henry Crumpton and Russian special presidential representative Anatoliy Safonov, two weeks after Litvinenko's murder.
In the course of the evening, Crumpton—who ran the CIA's Afghanistan operations before becoming the US ambassador-at-large for counter-terrorism, and Safonov, a former KGB colonel-general, discussed ways the two countries could work together to tackle terrorism. The memo records that Safonov “cited the recent events in London—specifically the murder of a former Russian spy by exposure to radioactive agents—as evidence of how great the threat remained and how much more there was to do on the co-operative front.” US embassy officials commented in the cable that Safonov's comments suggested Russia “was not involved in the killing, although Safonov did not offer any further explanation.”
Safonov also asserted that “Russian authorities in London had known about and followed individuals moving radioactive substances into the city but were told by the British that they were under control before the poisoning took place.” The claim that UK authorities were aware of the hit squad’s activities in London is bound to prompt questions about whether Litvinenko had been cautioned that his life may be at risk in the immediate period prior to his death.
The Paris embassy document is also significant because Henry Crumpton has been identified in the American media as a CIA specialist quoted in the 9-11 Commission report as an early voice advocating action in Afghanistan to counter the threat posed by the Taliban. Crompton knows the score: Islamic militants are the true existential threat to America and Russia alike, and baiting Moscow in the Litvinenko affair only abets the common enemy.
Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, Foreign Affairs Editor of Chronicles, is the author of The Sword of the Prophet and Defeating Jihad.