Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
A secret Russian assassination squad can reportedly 'get to anyone' in Europe. It's also really sloppy about it
Revelations of an alleged Russian intelligence operation to murder opponents and spread chaos across the European Union were met with a mix of wonder and derision in the intelligence community. Russia's decision to return to formalized violent operations in the West has "proven they can get to anyone," a source told Insider. But in many cases, the Russians' sloppy tradecraft has meant their "secret" operations are almost immediately noticed.
Two current European intelligence officials described the scoop by the New York Times about a unit of Russian military intelligence, commonly called the GRU, tasked with murdering Russia's enemies in Europe and helping sow political and military chaos, as "credible." It's "confirmation of something we have long suspected: There is a plan," one told Insider.
The New York Times piece, which ran Tuesday, used a mix of open-source documentation and intelligence gathered across Europe in the wake of half a dozen killings to determine that many of the international incidents involving Russia involve "Unit 29155" of the GRU, a previously unknown unit. It appears to be specifically tasked with irregular operations directed at Europe, including a failed coup in Montenegro and the attempted poisonings of an arms dealer in Bulgaria and a GRU defector in Salisbury, England.
The US reportedly pulled a top spy out of Russia after Trump revealed classified information to the Russians in an Oval Office meeting
A person directly involved with the discussions told the outlet the U.S. was concerned that Trump and his administration routinely mishandled classified intelligence and that their actions could expose the covert source as a spy within the Russian government.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dan Coats, the spy chief who has clashed with U.S. President Donald Trump over assessments involving Russia, Iran and North Korea, plans to step down soon, a source familiar with the matter said on Sunday.
A person with direct knowledge of that matter told Reuters that Coats advised Trump last week that he planned to step down fairly soon as director of national intelligence. He offered the president some thoughts on who might succeed him, the source said.
The New York Times, citing people familiar with the matter, reported the departure was expected "in the coming days."
Coats' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Marine veteran accused of taking part in a raid on the North Korean Embassy in Madrid was ordered freed on $1.3 million bail on Tuesday but must serve home confinement ahead of his possible extradition to Spain.
When an Air Force major called J.J. completed a solo flight in the U-2 in late August 2016 — 60 years after the high-flying aircraft was introduced — he became the 1,000th pilot to do so.
J.J., whose name was withheld by the U.S. Air Force for security reasons, earned his solo patch a few days after pilots No. 998 and No. 999. Those three pilots are in distinguished company, two fellow pilots said this month.
"We have a pretty small, elite team of folks. We're between about 60 and 70 active-duty pilots at any given time," Maj. Matt "Top" Nauman said during an Air Force event at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City.
"We're about 1,050 [pilots] right now. So to put that in context, there are more people with Super Bowl rings than there are people with U-2 patches," Nauman added. "It's a pretty small group of people that we've hired over the last 60 to 65 years."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. authorities have arrested a former U.S. Marine who is a member of a group that allegedly raided the North Korean embassy in Madrid in February and stole electronics, two sources familiar with the arrest said on Friday.