A US website, writing about security issues, linked the explosion of the arms depots in Vrbětice in 2014 and the abduction of five Czechs in Lebanon in 2015. The OpsLens server, established by former CIA members and diplomats, claims that both actions were carried out by the Russian intelligence agency GRU. OpsLens identified Lebanese agent Ali Fayad, a key figure in the abduction case, as the GRU’s collaborator.
The group of five Czechs, which included journalists Pavel Kofroň and Miroslav Dobeš, lawyer Jan Švarc, translator Adam Homsi and a member of military intelligence Martin Psík, disappeared in Lebanon in July 2015.
After their return at the beginning of February 2016, the then Minister of Defense Martin Stropnický confirmed to the media that the condition for their release was that Czechia would not extradite Ali Fayad to the United States. In April 2014, Fayad was detained in Prague by Czech police.
According to the OpsLens website, Fayad cooperated with the Russian intelligence service GRU. The abduction of the Czechs was allegedly planned by Russia to prevent Fayad’s extradition to the United States, where he might divulge important information during the interrogation.
The author of the text, a former employee of the CIA, Shelly Mateer, writes about GRU’s “fantastic scheme involving a staged kidnapping in Lebanon.”
The circumstances of the Czechs’ disappearance were never fully clarified. According to police, the kidnapping was related to Fayad, but authorities postponed the case due to lack of evidence.
The editorial staff of the Czech Neovlivní.cz investigative portal contacted Mateer. However, she did not share any evidence of Fayad’s cooperation with the Russians but only announced that the website will prepare more articles on Fayad.
Although there has been speculation about Fayad’s cooperation with the secret services of several countries, until now, Russia has not been considered one of them. However, through the Vrbětice case, there is now a link to Ukraine.
“According to our information, Fayad used Vrbětice ammunition depots for some of his arms deals, which took place within the territory of Ukraine,” stated the Neovlivní portal.
Despite the lack of evidence, there have been some hints indicating a connection between Ali Fayad and Russia in the past. According to Neovlivní, for example, Fayad mediated a giant arms trade between Russia and Iraq in 2012.
OpsLens further reported that the link between GRU and the abduction in Lebanon would be investigated by U.S. security forces.
Title image: Car of Russia’s ambassador to Prague, Aleksandr Zmeyevsky is parked in front of the Foreign Ministry in Prague, Czech Republic, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. The ambassador was summoned by newly appointed Foreign Minister Kulhanek to be handed the Czech protest against the Russian expulsion move, which the Czechs consider disproportionate, saying it has paralyzed the Czech Embassy in Moscow following the fierce diplomatic crisis over allegations that Russian agents were involved in a massive Czech ammunition depot explosion. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)