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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: ANALYSIS: FBI Will Not Catch Big Fish Running Ad Campaigns To Recruit Russian Spies



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BRUSSELS (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 06th October, 2019) The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has run a series of ads on Facebook asking Russian spies and those who know them to please come forward, making intelligence officers in Europe smile at its perceived naivety and raising one question: will it work?

The story was broken by CNN this week. The broadcaster said the campaign caught media attention only recently but an informed source alleged that it had been run on FBI‘s official Facebook page throughout the summer.

The ads in Russian and English asked those living in the US capital to contact the FBI Washington DC field office’s website and “visit us in person.”

The FBI apparently offered a lucrative deal. One ad featured a woman at her graduation with her family, with overlaid text in Russian saying “For your future, for the future of your family.” Awkward spelling and punctuation mistakes indicated that no Russian speaker was involved in its making.

Alan Kohler Jr., in charge of the� FBI Washington DC field office’s counterintelligence division, told CNN that “Russia has a large number of intelligence officers based in Russian diplomatic facilities around the world” and the FBI would use “all legal means available to locate individuals with information that can help protect the United States.”

An official at the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), France‘s intelligence agency, told Sputnik on condition of anonymity that the FBI campaign to lure in Russian spies could only yield a scoop of money-hungry turncloaks.

“The initiative of the FBI producing Facebook ads makes us smile, indeed, but why not? There are certainly always people ready to betray if they think they have an interest, but are they of any interest for the counterintelligence services? That is another question,” they said.

Jean-Paul Baquiast, a former French top civil servant in the Lionel Jospin government and a blogger, agreed that whoever responds to the campaign would be of “mediocre variety,” nothing like Rudolf Abel, a UK-born Soviet intelligence agent who fooled the FBI for years while working in the United States.

“There will probably be responses to the Facebook campaign, especially now after the publicity given to it by CNN, but the quality will very probably be mediocre; people attracted by money, but certainly not a top spy such as Rudolf Ivanovich Abel…, a Soviet intelligence officer, arrested by FBI agents in 1957 and exchanged later on a bridge in Berlin for the pilot of the American U2 spy plane,” Baquiast said.

He further argued that the campaign could do FBI a disservice by providing potential Russian moles with a credible legend to feed it disinformation.

“I must say the FBI here could have a major problem with what they will collect after their advertising campaign aimed at Russian ‘spies’. Not only will there be unreliable or stupid ‘storytellers’, but the Russian secret services, the FSB, could very well send in Russian agents as future moles, to penetrate the FBI,” he said.

The poor language of the FBI ads < a class="external" href="https://www.urdupoint.com/en/latest-news/may.html" rel="nofollow">may prove a big flaw, so big in fact that it could render the counterintelligence agency’s efforts moot. The French intelligence source told Sputnik that the quality of the ads was “shocking for us.”

“They will not catch big fish with such poorly designed adverts. Who could trust them?” they argued.

Claude Moniquet, the Brussels-based director of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security (ESISC) consultancy and a former French intelligence officer, told Sputnik that language mistakes in ads designed to attract Russian informants were “a bit pathetic but understandable.”

“Most agents do half careers of 20 years, and the Cold War finished before the new century, so they have less Russian experts, as compared to their experts speaking Arabic,” he pointed out.

He said � now that the war of words between Russia and the United States had escalated � the US intelligence community needed to “scramble to catch up in Russian again,” same as it did in the early 2000s after an Islamist attack on twin towers in New York.

“In 2001, the American secret services had very few Arabic speakers in their ranks. They discovered with horror some 50,000 hours of recorded telephone conversations by potential terrorists which had not been listened to by lack of translators,” Moniquet said.

The former intelligence agent admitted he had always been “impressed” by language skills of Russian diplomats and agents. He said foreign language proficiency expected from Russians was “incredibly higher” than that of their Western counterparts.

As to the FBI spy chief in DC’s remark about a high concentration of Russian spies per diplomatic mission, the French DGSE source told Sputnik that the accusation was “ridiculous and perfectly hypocritical.”

“There is the same number of diplomats in Moscow at the American embassy, with many attaches who actually belong to the CIA or other agencies and can be qualified as ‘spies’ or, let’s say, belonging to the secret services. All major countries do it, France as well. It is an important source of information to detect potential threat,” they argued.

Moniquet opined that Russia and the United States were both spying on each other to the best of their abilities, as is expected of the world‘s two superpowers pursuing at times opposing foreign policy goals.

“The level of spying of Americans in Russia and of Russia in the USA is high, and it is to be expected. They are two superpowers, both in the Security Council of the UN, with diverging interests in conflict zones such as Ukraine,” he said.

It is therefore no wonder that the two countries would engage in “classical” espionage,” as well as political, military and economic intelligence gathering, “doing their best to protect their national sources and information,” Moniquet said.

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠