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December 06, 2006

Litvinenko: Victim of Putin, or of Own Nuke Bomb Plot?

I t hink it's pretty obviously Putin myself. Allah wonders why anyone would spend a million dollars on a hit. To me, that sounds pretty cheap. How expensive was it every time we attempted a smart-bomb strike on Saddam?

Assassination is one of the most cost-effective sorts of politcal warfare. Even when it's on the pricey side.

Anyway, here's British Intelligence pretty damn sure this was a Kremlin plot:

Intelligence services in Britain are convinced that the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko was authorised by the Russian Federal Security Service.

Security sources have told The Times that the FSB orchestrated a “highly sophisticated plot” and was likely to have used some of its former agents to carry out the operation on the streets of London.

“We know how the FSB operates abroad and, based on the circumstances behind the death of Mr Litvinenko, the FSB has to be the prime suspect,” a source said yesterday.

The involvement of a former FSB officer made it easier to lure Mr Litvinenko to meetings at various locations and to distance its bosses in the Kremlin from being directly implicated in the plot.

Intelligence officials say that only officials such as FSB agents would have been able to obtain sufficent amounts of polonium-210, the radioactive substance used to fatally poison Mr Litvinenko only weeks after he was given British citizenship.

MI5 and MI6 are working closely with Scotland Yard on the investigation. A senior police source told The Times yesterday that the method used to kill the 43-year-old dissident was intended to send a message to his friends and allies.

“It’s such a bad way to die, they must have known,” the source said. “The sheer organisation involved could only have been managed by professionals adept at operating internationally.”

On the other hand, there is the Islamic-convert-Litvinenko-intended-a-nuke-strike theory:

The death of Alexander Litvinenko by radiological poisoning points to the possibility that the former Soviet spy may have been involved with Islamic terrorists in the preparation of tactical nuclear weapons for use in the jihad against the United States and its NATO allies.

...


According to nuclear expert David Morgan, killing a spy or political dissident with a grain or two of polonium-210 is as ludicrous as shooting a rat with a howitzer.

Again, I find that absurd. States don't sweat a million bucks when it comes to taking out an enemy without being blamed for it, as the plan seemed to be.

How much would just the assassin's fee be for such a high-profile hit? Has to be at least $100,000. So we're going to quibble over the price of the poison?

Litvinenko, who was born an orthodox Christian, was a convert to Islam with close ties to the Chechen rebels. His last words consisted of his desire to be buried “according to Muslim tradition.”

In recent years, considerable attention has been paid to suitcase nukes that were developed by U.S. and Soviet forces during the Cold War. Reliable sources, including Hans Blix of the United Nation, have confirmed that bin Laden purchased several of these devices from the Chechen rebels in 1996. According to Sharif al-Masri and other al Qaeda operatives who have been taken into custody, several of these weapons have been forward deployed to the United States in preparation for al Qaeda’s next attack on American soil.

The article notes that Polonium 210 forms part of the trigger of such suitcase nukes, but decays quickly, so it must be periodically replaced. Ergo, Litvinenko poisoned himself while transporting Polonium 210 to re-trigger his suitcase nuke.

I don't buy it for a second. If Al Qaeda had those bombs, they'd have been set off already.

Update: British cops finally say it -- it was murder. They had refrained from stating the obvious because of the great stakes involved, and importance of not rushing to conclusions.

But now it's a murder. Officially.


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posted by Ace at 05:39 PM

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