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- Polish Military Intelligence was warned of a possible terrorist threat against one of the EU Member States' aircraft.
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Polish Military Intelligence was warned of a possible terrorist threat against one of the EU Member States' aircraft.
Before the Tu154M departure to Smolensk, the Military Intelligence Service received notice in April 2010 of a possible abduction/hijacking threat to one of the EU Member States' aircraft.
Before the Tu154M departure to Smolensk, the Military Intelligence Service received notice in April 2010 of a possible abduction/hijacking threat to one of the EU Member States' planes, according to wPolityce.pl.
On April 9, 2010, the Anti-Terrorist Centre sent a notice of a possible terrorist attack to the Military Counterintelligence Centre, the Internal Security Agency, the Government Protection Bureau.
Such information indicating a possible threat has been confirmed by the Military Intelligence Service in its letter to wPolityce.pl. In reply to inquiries, the service replied as follows:
'Please be informed that the Military Intelligence Service, among other authorities, received a general notice in April 2010 from one of the leading organizations forming the anti-terrorist system in Poland of a possible aircraft hijacking from one of the airports in the European Union Member States, for review. The notice did not include any closer details.'
The Military Intelligence Service did not specify the character and length of verification into the above notice/warning. In response to detailed questions in which wPolityce.pl requested information as to what steps were taken by the secret services after receiving such signals and whether these warnings were reported to the key persons in the country, the Military Intelligence Service would excuses itself from answering by hiding behind regulations concerning classified information in accordance with the Act on the Military Counterintelligence Service and the Military Intelligence Service.
The Military Intelligence only pointed out that:
'Without reference to any specific case, it should be mentioned that the procedure and rules of communication to the highest State authorities are regulated in Article 19 of the Act on the Military Counterintelligence Service and the Military Intelligence Service.'
Section 1 of that provision rules as follows:
The Heads of the Military Counterintelligence Service and the Military Intelligence Service, each within their respective range of competence, when notifying the Minister of Defence, shall promptly transfer such information to the President of the Republic of Poland and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers that may be of importance for the safety and international position of the Republic of Poland.
The word 'promptly' leaves room for broad interpretation; moreover, the end date of the verification proceedings of the reported threat is unknown. Thus, it may well have been the case that the Military Intelligence Service did not transfer their information concerning the possible threat against an EU aircraft to the highest authorities.
In any case, the Military Intelligence Service did confirm without any doubt that Poland did receive signals of a possible threat to an aircraft from one of the European Union Member States.
In October 2010, Jacek Cichocki, head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, would refer to such warnings in a vague manner. He would explain on RMF FM radio:
'Before April 10, the services received warnings of a threat against an EU aircraft, but we do not associate this with the crash of the Presidential Tu-154M near Smolensk.'
The minister did not clarify the details of the case nor did he mention which services exactly were informed of the matter.
A question emerges as to what was done with such knowledge, whether the warnings were handled properly, whether they were not disregarded and - why, despite such threats, not only were the travelling precautions of the late Lech Kaczynski to Smolensk not improved, but the precautions were in fact waived.
Colonel Andrzej Pawlikowski, former chief of the Government Protection Bureau, addressed the issue directly as a signal concerning the risk of an assassination attempt against one of the EU Member State leaders. This greatly changes the situation. The threat signals before April 10 were very serious and specific. Taking into account the Russian party's approach to the safety issue of the Presidential flight (Russians have not given an area reconnaissance approval, no approval of the Government Protection Bureau's to be present at the airport, etc.) should have put the Services in the country in readiness. However, this did not happen.
Talking to wPolityce.pl, Colonel Pawlikowski clarified that '...he received the first signals of warnings initially sent to the Polish services several months after the Smolensk tragedy, still in 2010.'
'According to the information I obtained, our secret services received notice from one of the intelligence agencies operating in the territory of the European Union that one of the aircrafts may be hijacked. It concerned an aircraft carrying one of the EU Member States' leaders, Pawlikowski explained.
He added that such information had been provided to him by a third party. The former chief of the Government Protection Bureau points out that the signal should have alerted the services and put them on high alert.
During a meeting of the committee, Pawlikowski asked a number of questions to the prosecutors. Still, none of them referred to the matter of warnings which the services received before the departure of the Tu154M plane to Smolensk. There is no information as to whether the military prosecutor's office has ever investigated the matter.
Pawlikowski is sure that the above mentioned warning signals should have caused the services to reinforce the flight security of the President. Unfortunately, this did not change the attitude to the flight to Smolensk. In accordance with the guidance from Moscow, both the Polish and Russian services decided to treat this flight as Lech Kaczynski's private trip.
The issue of warnings concerning a possible assassination attempt against an EU Head of State and of the reactions taken in response to these signals should be traced down in detail. Determining the manner of propagation of such news, learning the identity of those who blocked the communication channels and obstructed the decision making process would be of crucial importance in establishing the facts that occurred in Smolensk.
Translated and edited from sources: