They’ve supposedly poisoned former spies. They’ve apparently downed an airliner, killing hundreds of innocent people. They’re allegedly fond of “burning traitors alive.”
Is this the Islamic State group?
No. It’s Russia’s GRU.
According to the U.K. Mirror, the GRU — which stands for “Main Intelligence Directorate” in Russian — is the agency behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter with the nerve agent novichok in the United Kingdom earlier this year.
Two men have been charged in that attack according to the U.K. Guardian — Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.
However, if accounts are true, that sort of attack is standard stuff for the GRU.
“The secret group trains its 25,000 soldiers in ‘non-linear warfare’ which can be used to destabilize nations through cyber attacks and espionage,” the U.K. Mirror reports.
“The GRU have been deployed in eastern Ukraine to support the separatist movement and are also thought to be behind alleged disruption ahead of the 2016 US presidential election.
“Under Vladimir Putin Russia has stopped short of outright aggression but, through the GRU, have become masters of cyber warfare and underhand tactics.”
That includes the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over the Ukraine in 2014, which resulted in the deaths of 298 people.
“It was started as an intelligence-gathering agency for the Bolshevik Red Army a century ago,” the Mirror reports.
“Ever since then it has remained separate from other intelligence organizations and was kept entirely separate from the more famous KGB during the Cold War but still ran operations during that time.”
And they’re every bit as violent as you would imagine. Take what happened in 1985 when four Russian diplomats were taken hostage from the Soviets’ Beirut embassy by Islamists.
One of the Soviet diplomats was killed. So, the GRU managed to track down a hostage-taker’s family member and “castrated them, cut him down into pieces and sent him to the hostage takers.” They then threatened to do the same to the rest of the hostage-takers. All three of the remaining diplomats were released safely.
Of course, the Soviet Union is no more and the Cold War is over. We all knew of the KGB and their actions, yet NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre said that they were “broken up with separate domestic and foreign intelligence services complete with new names.”
“The lesser-known GRU, founded a century ago by Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, just kept going under the same name.”
The secretive organization is linked to a number of actions beyond what’s mentioned, including the destabilization of Montenegro, assistance to the Assad regime in the Syrian Civil War and other related horrors.
Russia, of course, denies this all. However, given what we know about the GRU, crimes like the novichok poisoning in the U.K. could become a much more regular occurrence — and given that the Trump administration has put sanctions on the Russians of late and are threatening a showdown in Syria, it could mean they hit the United States next.
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