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Russian spies deported: Let’s look for Islamists now

By Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Finally all of them confessed to the US court that they were working for Russian secret service. And, that caused them immediate deportation from the country. U.S. officials said they wanted the spies to carry a message to Russian spy headquarters.

"If you come to America to spy on Americans, you will be caught and exposed," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

All of the alleged spies were flown by Vision Airlines flight from New York to Vienna.

Now, the infamous Russian spy Anna Chapman is planning to settle in Britain, where she has citizenship. After spending some days with members of her family, the 28-year old gorgeous Anna Chapman plans to settle in Britain, where she lived for years, before leaving for United States.

The 28-year-old redheaded, fledgling Internet entrepreneur, who started a real estate referral business in the U.S. about six months ago, would not be allowed back into the U.S. without government authorization.

Anna Chapman also is planning to sue her ex-husband Alex Chapman for releasing her 'saucy' photographs to the press. She already has discussed this issue with US attorney Robert Baum.

Ms. Chapman's younger sister Katya told the US attorney that Alex Chapman is bombarding her with calls and emails trying to deny his role in releasing photos to media.

Attorney Robert Baum said, the pictures were sold by Alex to media in exchange of huge amount of money.

Chapman's laywer, Robert Baum, said that his client pleaded guilty on conspiracy charges that she communicated with the Russian Federation without registering as a foreign agent to avoid a lengthy wait for a trial. "The conditions of confinement while awaiting trial as something she was not prepared to do. It was an important consideration for Anna," Baum said. He said that his client was held in solitary confinement, and only allowed to leave her cell one hour a day.

He also noted that Chapman took the passport given to her by an undercover FBI agent to the New York police department, rather than delivering it as asked. "It is an indication of her state of mind concerning the work she was doing on behalf of the Russian Federation," Baum said.

One of the deported Russian spies, Semenko, 28, who speaks fluent English, Spanish and Mandarin, is understood to have sought work at the New America Foundation and the Carnegie Endowment, both influential centrist think tanks with close ties to the Obama administration.

Semenko - known as Misha - lived in a shabby flat in Arlington. The flat had been arranged for him by Mark Grueter, a former Peace Corps volunteer who had taught him English at Amur State University in Blagoveschensk in the Russian Far East in 2001 and 2002.

"Unlike many of the Russian students, he had a generally favourable attitude toward America," Grueter recalled. "He didn't carry any of the xenophobia or anti-American baggage that many of them had. He wasn't really interested in politics.

"He was just interested in learning, in soaking up knowledge. When I saw him in America, he seemed happy and he seemed to really like it here. I was impressed by how much his English had improved."

Semenko first arrived in the US on a student visa to study International Relations and Asia Studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, close to New York City and just 12 miles away from the home of a couple calling themselves Richard and Cynthia Murphy who have also been charged with being members of the spy ring. Semenko, who moved to Arlington after Travel All Russia relocated its operations there from New York, lived in the flat with a girlfriend from Ecuador.

Following the end of week-long stories virtually flooding global media, it is now questioned by many, were the Russian spy suspects really incompetent? Or did their bosses back in Moscow set them up in situations where they were doomed to fail?

Russian SVR espionage service certainly did not run the operation as the CIA would have, if declassified CIA manuals on use of deep cover are any guide. At least one expert blames Kremlin handlers for the alleged agents' apparent haplessness.

“They are not incompetent. They were simply not being used productively in the current circumstances,” says Haviland Smith, a retired CIA station chief.

With the end of the latest arrest of 11 suspected Russian spies and their deportation from United States, it is a timely question as to whether American intelligence agencies now begin hunting hidden Islamist spies? It is already apprehended that Islamist and Jihadist spies are actively working in the West under deep cover. But, most importantly, many of such spies are well connected with local mosques or Muslim community centers.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor of Weekly Blitz.