This Week on the SpyTalk Podcast
Of Russian Spies and Dirty Wars
Former Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin and Jeanne Meserve discuss the case of a deep cover Russian spy rolled up in Holland. The accused agent, Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, had posed as a Brazilian student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, or SAIS, where McLaughlin has been teaching for about 15 years as a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence.
Cherkasov was detained after he arrived in Holland to apply for an internship at the International Criminal Court, in which Russia has a great interest because of sanctions violations and war crimes cases arising from its invasion of Ukraine.
One glaring mystery of the case is why Dutch authorities packed Cherkasov onto a plane back to Brazil rather than arrest him, hand him over to U.S. authorities for prosecution or, as McLaughlin tells Jeanne Meserve, track him to his handlers or other members of a possible Russian spy network. Instead, he’s facing prosecution in Brazil on charges of using false documents, Reuters reported.
Israel-Iran Shadow War Intensifies
Mossad’s relentless clandestine assassinations and sabotage operations in Iran, meanwhile, gets more scrutiny this week by me and Middle East reporting veteran Jonathan Broder, who first wrote about the campaign here on June 9.
“According to Ronen Bergman, an Israeli intelligence reporter and author,” he wrote, “Mossad takes its operational doctrine from the Babylonian Talmud, a 6th century compendium of legal arguments touching on all aspects of life: ‘He who comes to kill you, rise early and kill him first.’”
Iran’s failure to thwart the Israeli attacks cost of the intelligence chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards his job this week and will likely lead to a shake-up of the service, according to the New York Times, citing experts close to the regime.
The Revolutionary Guards has its own foreign assassinations section, Unit 804, but it has spectacularly failed in its efforts to kill Israelis in several countries abroad. Broder attributes that to close relations Israel has forged with the security services of friendly foreign nations.
Jerusalem’s fierce campaign against Iran, meanwhile, is coming under increasing criticism by Israelis who think it unworthy of the Jewish state and blackens its name, thus playing into the hands of its enemies, Broder also said.
There’s all this and more in this week’s SpyTalk podcast. Do tune in—and leave us a comment, please. We love hearing from our listeners, on Apple or Stitcher or whatever platform you use to get your podcasts.