The Kremlin may be the main winner in the Lebanon war. Israel has been attacked with Soviet Kalashnikovs and Katyushas, Russian Fajr-1 and Fajr-3 rockets, Russian AT-5 Spandrel antitank missiles and Kornet antitank rockets. Russia’s outmoded weapons are now all the rage with terrorists everywhere in the world, and the bad guys know exactly where to get them. The weapons cases abandoned by Hezbollah were marked: “Customer: Ministry of Defense of Syria. Supplier: KBP, Tula, Russia.”
Today’s international terrorism was conceived at the Lubyanka, the headquarters of the KGB, in the aftermath of the1967 Six-Day War in the Middle East. I witnessed its birth in my other life, as a Communist general. Israel humiliated Egypt and Syria, whose bellicose governments were being run by Soviet razvedka (Russian for “foreign intelligence”) advisers, whereupon the Kremlin decided to arm Israel’s enemy neighbors, the Palestinians, and draw them into a terrorist war against Israel.
General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, who created Communist Romania’s intelligence structure and then rose to head up all of Soviet Russia’s foreign intelligence, often lectured me: “In today’s world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon.”
Between 1968 and 1978, when I broke with Communism, the security forces of Romania alone sent two cargo planes full of military goodies every week to Palestinian terrorists in Lebanon. Since the fall of Communism the East German Stasi archives have revealed that, in 1983 alone, its foreign intelligence service sent $1,877,600 worth of AK-47 ammunition to Lebanon. According to Vaclav Havel, Communist Czechoslovakia shipped 1,000 tons of the odorless explosive Semtex-H (which can’t be detected by sniffer dogs) to Islamic terrorists — enough for 150 years.
The terrorist war per se came into action at the end of 1968, when the KGB transformed airplane hijacking — that weapon of choice for September 11, 2001 — into an instrument of terror. In 1969 alone there were 82 hijackings of planes worldwide, carried out by the KGB-financed PLO. In 1971, when I was visiting Sakharovsky at his Lubyanka office, he called my attention to a sea of red flags pinned onto a world map hanging on the wall. Each flag represented a captured plane. “Airplane hijacking is my own invention,” he claimed.
The political “success” occasioned by hijacking Israeli airplanes prompted the KGB’s 13th Department, known in our intelligence jargon as the “Department for Wet Affairs” (wet being a euphemism for bloody), to expand into organizing “public executions” of Jews in airports, train stations, and other public places. In 1969 Dr. George Habash, a KGB puppet, explained: “Killing one Jew far away from the field of battle is more effective than killing a hundred Jews on the field of battle, because it attracts more attention.”
By the end of the 1960s, the KGB was deeply involved in mass terrorism against Jews, carried out by various Palestinian client organizations. Here are some terrorist actions for which the KGB took credit while I was still in Romania: November 1969, armed attack on the El Al office in Athens, leaving 1 dead and 14 wounded; May 30, 1972, Ben Gurion Airport attack, leaving 22 dead and 76 wounded; December 1974, Tel Aviv movie theater bomb, leaving 2 dead and 66 wounded; March 1975, attack on a Tel Aviv hotel, leaving 25 dead and 6 wounded; May 1975, Jerusalem bomb, leaving 1 dead and 3 wounded; July 4, 1975, bomb in Zion Square, Jerusalem, leaving 15 dead and 62 wounded; April 1978, Brussels airport attack, leaving 12 wounded; May 1978, attack on an El Al plane in Paris, leaving 12 wounded.
In 1971, the KGB launched operation Tayfun (Russian for “typhoon”), aimed at destabilizing Western Europe. The Baader-Meinhof, the Red Army Faction (RAF), and other KGB-sponsored Marxist organizations unleashed a wave of anti-American terrorism that shook Western Europe. Richard Welsh, the CIA station chief in Athens, was shot to death in Greece on December 23, 1975. General Alexander Haig, commander of NATO in Brussels was injured in a bomb attack that damaged his armored Mercedes beyond repair in June 1979. General Frederick J. Kroesen, commander of U.S. forces in Europe, barely survived a rocket attack in September 1981. Alfred Herrhausen, the pro-American chairman of Deutsche Bank, was killed during a grenade attack in November 1989. Hans Neusel, a pro-American state secretary in the West Germaninterior ministry, was wounded during an assassination attempt in July 1990.
In 1972, the Kremlin decided to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the U.S. As KGB chairman Yury Andropov told me, a billion adversaries could inflict far greater damage on America than could a few millions. We needed to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States. No one within the American/Zionist sphere of influence should any longer feel safe.
According to Andropov, the Islamic world was a waiting petri dish in which we could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred, grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought. Islamic anti-Semitism ran deep. The Muslims had a taste for nationalism, jingoism, and victimology. Their illiterate, oppressed mobs could be whipped up to a fever pitch.
Terrorism and violence against Israel and her master, American Zionism, would flow naturally from the Muslims’ religious fervor, Andropov sermonized. We had only to keep repeating our themes — that the United States and Israel were “fascist, imperial-Zionist countries” bankrolled by rich Jews. Islam was obsessed with preventing the infidels’ occupation of its territory, and it would be highly receptive to our characterization of the U.S. Congress as a rapacious Zionist body aiming to turn the world into a Jewish fiefdom.
The codename of this operation was “SIG” (Sionistskiye Gosudarstva, or “Zionist Governments”), and was within my Romanian service’s “sphere of influence,” for it embraced Libya, Lebanon, and Syria. SIG was a large party/state operation. We created joint ventures to build hospitals, houses, and roads in these countries, and there we sent thousands of doctors, engineers, technicians, professors, and even dance instructors. All had the task of portraying the United States as an arrogant and haughty Jewish fiefdom financed by Jewish money and run by Jewish politicians, whose aim was to subordinate the entire Islamic world.
In the mid 1970s, the KGB ordered my service, the DIE — along with other East European sister services — to scour the country for trusted party activists belonging to various Islamic ethnic groups, train them in disinformation and terrorist operations, and infiltrate them into the countries of our “sphere of influence.” Their task was to export a rabid, demented hatred for American Zionism by manipulating the ancestral abhorrence for Jews felt by the people in that part of the world. Before I left Romania for good, in 1978, my DIE had dispatched around 500 such undercover agents to Islamic countries. According to a rough estimate received from Moscow, by 1978 the whole Soviet-bloc intelligence community had sent some 4,000 such agents of influence into the Islamic world.
In the mid-1970s we also started showering the Islamic world with an Arabic translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a tsarist Russian forgery that had been used by Hitler as the foundation for his anti-Semitic philosophy. We also disseminated a KGB-fabricated “documentary” paper in Arabic alleging that Israel and its main supporter, the United States, were Zionist countries dedicated to converting the Islamic world into a Jewish colony.
We in the Soviet bloc tried to conquer minds, because we knew we could not win any military battles. It is hard to say what exactly are the lasting effects of operation SIG. But the cumulative effect of disseminating hundreds of thousands of Protocols in the Islamic world and portraying Israel and the United States as Islam’s deadly enemies was surely not constructive.
Post-Soviet Russia has been transformed in unprecedented ways, but the widely popular belief that the nefarious Soviet legacy was rooted out at the end of the Cold War the same way that Nazism was rooted out with the conclusion of World War II, is not yet correct.
In the 1950s, when I was chief of Romania’s foreign intelligence station in West Germany, I witnessed how Hitler’s Third Reich had been demolished, its war criminals put on trial, its military and police forces disbanded, and the Nazis removed from public office. None of these things has happened in the former Soviet Union. No individual has been put on trial, although the Soviet Union’s Communist regime killed over a hundred million people. Most Soviet institutions have been left in place, having simply been given new names, and are now run by many of the same people who guided the Communist state. In 2000, former officers of the KGB and the Soviet Red Army took over the Kremlin and Russia’s government.
Germany would have never become a democracy with Gestapo and SS officers running the show.
On September 11, 2001, President Vladimir Putin became the first leader of a foreign country to express sympathy to President George W. Bush for what he called “these terrible tragedies of the terrorist attacks.” Soon, however, Putin began moving his country back into the terrorist business. In March 2002, he quietly reinstituted sales of weapons to Iran’s terrorist dictator, Ayatollah Khamenei, and engaged Russia in the construction of a 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactor at Bushehr, with a uranium conversion facility able to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. Hundreds of Russian technicians also started helping the government of Iran to develop the Shahab-4 missile, with a range of over 1,250 miles, which can carry a nuclear or germ warhead anywhere in the Middle East and Europe.
Iran’s current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had already announced that nothing could stop his country from building nuclear weapons, and he stated that Israel was a “disgraceful stain [on] the Islamic world” that would be eliminated. During World War II, 405,399 Americans died to eradicate Nazism and its anti-Semitic terrorism. Now we are facing Islamic fascism and nuclear anti-Semitic terrorism. The United Nations can offer no hope. It has not yet even been able to define terrorism.
A proverb says that one fire drives out another. The Kremlin may be our best hope. In May 2002, the NATO foreign ministers approved a partnership with Russia, the alliance’s former enemy. The rest of the world said that the Cold War was over and done with. Kaput. Now Russia wants to be admitted to the World Trade Organization. For that to happen, the Kremlin should be firmly told first to get out of the terrorism business.
We should also help the Russians realize that it is in their own interest to make President Ahmadinejad renounce nuclear weapons. He is an unpredictable tyrant who may also consider Russia an enemy at some point in time. “If Iran gets weapons of mass destruction, deliverable by a missile, that’s going to be a problem,” President Bush correctly stated. “That’s going to be a problem for all of us, including Russia.”
–Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc. His book Red Horizons has been republished in 27 countries.