Military intelligence report warns of heightened presence of Chinese and Russian spies, and of Al-Qaeda recruitment efforts on net

Illustrative photo: Philippe Ramakers / freeimages

This Friday, Czech military intelligence released its annual report, finding (along with the civilian counter-intelligence service BIS earlier) that there were an exceptionally high number of Chinese spies operating on Czech soil, as well as Russian agents. Military intelligence also reported that the terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda was continuing to spread its ideology via social networks and sites on the internet.

Andor Šándor,  photo: Czech Television
Earlier, I spoke to security analyst and former head of Czech defence intelligence Andor Šándor, asking him how he viewed the situation, first regarding the threat of Islamic terrorism.

“The internet of course remains one of the major tools for Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups to recruit new members and even train them how to make a bomb in a potential attack. As far as the Czech Republic is concerned, we still have a very small Muslim community. That has been estimated at around 10 thousand, of which 500 are Czech converts. On the other hand, if members of the community feel offended by the larger society, it is impossible to rule out that one or two may become radicalised and recruited for further terrorist activities either here or abroad.”

This is known as the ‘lone wolf’…

“That’s right. I consider the lone wolf the biggest threat because of they keep a very low profile and do not go to facebook or Twitter, do not buy specific items to buy large bombs, if they do not share their views, they remain under the radar of the security services. Under such circumstances it is a miracle for them to be detected.”

The other big finding which has been released is that there was a very high presence of Russian and Chinese spies on Czech territory. What areas do you think are important for China or Russia in terms of espionage?

Illustrative photo: Philippe Ramakers / freeimages
“In general, on every territory of every country you have spies who try and find out information about what countries want to do. In terms of Russia or China, however, the biggest threat is that they want to influence both political and economic decisions which can seriously harm the Czech Republic. They try and destabilise society and to split society on major security and international issues.

“In particular, the Russians want to position the Czech Republic as a weak point of the European Union, of NATO, and this is their primary task. In this respect, what they are trying to achieve is very serious for this country. And I believe that the government is taking the report very seriously as well. Of course, we are just talking about the unclassified sections of the report – they receive the classified version with all the details. Based on that, I am sure the agencies we mentioned are taking the situation very seriously, although it is impossible, in any country and for any security organisation, to watch every potential spy.”