Revolutionary Group That Raided North Korean Embassy Establishes Contact With FBI

David Maxwell Comment: “Maybe things are about to get serious.  
As much as I would like the most evil mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim family regime to be deposed from its totalitarian rule over the Guerrilla Dynasty and Gulag State I have to add a few words of caution.  First and most obvious is that this is far too public (perhaps useful for some kind of information and influence activities but I would like to see the plan for that and how all these activities support it).  Second are two words:  Ahmed Chalabi.  Whomever is in contact with this organization (assuming it really exists and is not just an apparition of an influence campaign) had better make the most objective assessment of the organization and thorough vet (and test) the leadership and members.  As Andrei Lankov noted in an email some of their messaging is in English that is a little too good – it does not appear to be written in Korean and then translated into English with the obvious or subtle signs that English is not the primary language.  I mention this not to allege that this organization may be something created by some Americans but because if the leadership is very proficient in the English language we are susceptible to being duped by them because one American weakness is that we think anyone who can speak English well is both credible and smart and we tend to accept them at face value and believe what they tell us (which is often based on what they know we want to hear – I want to hear that there is an organization that can overthrow the Kim family regime – but I do need to be skeptical of anyone who says they can do that and especially if they promise the rosy outcome we all want).  Perhaps these are Koreans from the north who have been in exile for some time and have superior language capabilities. However, I want to see the leadership who cannot speak English well and interview them because I would bet that is where the real power lies (again assuming that this is an actual organization).
Some initial analysis:  I am skeptical of their release of the video as a way to discredit Kim Jong-un.  Whiie it seems logical to us as westerners will it have the effects we desire? I would like some PSYOP professionals with Korean expertise to assess this influence activity in terms of the reaction by the target audience(s).  To me this video could be an indicator that it was produced by amateurs.  Or the target audience may actually be us and they are trying to demonstrate their capabilities to us.
That said I hope the intel they gathered from the embassy in Madrid is useful.  I wish I still had a clearance and access (and need to know) to read the intelligence reports that the information will hopefully generate.”

Revolutionary group that raided North Korean Embassy establishes contact with FBI

The Washington Post · by John Hudson · March 21, 2019

The revolutionary group that carried out a brazen daytime raid of North Korea’s Embassy in Spain last month has shared information about the incident with the FBI, said people familiar with the meeting.

The decision by the group to engage federal authorities thrusts the U.S. intelligence community into a sensitive international investigation led by Spanish authorities, who have not publicly identified any suspects in the mysterious Feb. 22 operation.

It comes as the Trump administration seeks to improve ties with North Korea and negotiate a deal to eliminate its nuclear weapons program after decades of failed negotiations and mutual distrust.

Any substantive ties between the group and U.S. authorities could complicate the nuclear negotiations given the organization’s stated mission of overthrowing and replacing North Korea’s Kim dynasty. The secretive group calls itself Free Joseon, but is also known as Cheollima Civil Defense.

On Thursday, the group released a video of one of its members destroying portraits of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung, and his son and successor, Kim Jong Il. The captions of the 34-second clip exclaim “Down with Kim family rule!” and claim it took place on “our homeland’s soil,” suggesting the footage was possibly shot inside the North Korean Embassy in Madrid.

Any desecration of the leaders’ image is punishable by death inNorth Korea, given the Kim family’s self-ordained god-like status and could invite a harsh response from Pyongyang.

The raid on the embassy generated international headlines last week after Spanish authorities released details about the incident, telling reporters it was carried out by 10 masked assailants who entered the embassy with fake firearms, tied up the staff and interrogated them.

Reports said the assailants stole computers, documents and other items before speeding away in two cars with diplomatic license plates that were later abandoned on a nearby street.

A spokeswoman with the FBI, when asked about its contacts with the secretive group, said that “it is our standard practice to neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation. However, the FBI enjoys a strong working relationship with our Spanish law enforcement partners that centers on information sharing and regular cooperation around matters of mutual assistance.”

A spokeswoman for Spain’s Embassy in Washington confirmed that Spanish authorities have launched an investigation into the incident but did not offer details.

Free Joseon has not publicly asserted responsibility for the raid and on Sunday urged the international news media to refrain from identifying the names of its members for fear of being targeted by North Korean hit teams.

“The regime does not hesitate to conduct assassinations on foreign soil,” the group said in a statement published on its website.

Experts say the documents and computers seized in the raid would likely contain a treasure trove of information valuable to foreign intelligence agencies.

The former North Korean ambassador to Madrid was Kim Hyok Chol, the country’s current pointman for the nuclear negotiations with the United States. Details about Kim’s activities during his time there contained in the stolen materials could prove useful for governments seeking an edge in the negotiations.

It is unclear why the group reached out to U.S. authorities, but its published statements indicate that it is fearful of a punitive response from the North Korean regime.

“The group most likely does not have an unlimited supply of funds or a vast logistical network. Approaching the U.S. government with the assets retrieved in Madrid would possibly secure the group some protection,” said Sung-Yoon Lee, a North Korea expert at Tufts University.

The FBI does not have jurisdiction over foreign intelligence gathering, but it regularly passes information along to the CIA if it is relevant to the organization.

The CIA declined to comment.

Spanish news outlets suggested that the CIA was involved in the raid, however people familiar with the operation said U.S. intelligence agencies did not play a role.

Lee said the group’s decision to release the video of a person destroying the portraits of the leadership is likely to “debunk the myth of inviolability of the Kim Il Sung cult and routinize the belief that the North Korean people can, too, stand up to Kim Jong Un.”


Free Joseon

Free Joseon first drew wide attention in 2017 after it reportedly evacuated the nephew of Kim Jong Un from Macau when potential threats to his life surfaced. The nephew was the son of Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean leader’s exiled half brother who was assassinated in a nerve-gas attack in a Malaysian airport that same year. Kim Jong Nam is widely believed to have been killed because he was viewed as a threat to Kim Jong Un’s grip on power.

Members of the Free Joseon group transported the nephew out of Macau with the help of the governments of the United States, China and the Netherlands, which provided travel and visa assistance, the group told the Wall Street Journal in 2017.

In March, the group published a manifesto calling on North Koreans inside and outside the country to resist the Kim dynasty.

The Washington Post · by John Hudson · March 21, 2019


David Maxwell

Senior Fellow

Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Phone: 703-300-8263

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Twitter: @davidmaxwell161


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