When three officers of Germany's foreign intelligence service the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), were arrested in Pristina November 19, it exposed that country's extensive covert operations in the heart of the Balkans.
On November 14, a bomb planted at the office of the European Union Special Representative was detonated in downtown Pristina. While damage was light and there were no injuries, U.N. "peacekeepers" detained one of the BND officers hours after the blast when he was observed taking photos of the damaged building. Two of his colleagues waited in a car and acted as lookouts. The officer named these two colleagues as witnesses that he was in his office at the time of the attack.
That office, identified by the press as the "private security firm" Logistics-Coordination & Assessment Service or LCAS, in reality was a front company for BND operations. Its premises were searched three days later and the trio were subsequently arrested and accused by Kosovan authorities of responsibility for bombing the EU building.
As a result of the arrests, the BND was forced to admit the real identities of their agents and the true nature of LCAS.
A scandal erupted leading to a diplomatic row between Berlin and Pristina. The German government labeled the accusations "absurd" and threatened a cut-off of funds to the Kosovo government. A circus atmosphere prevailed as photos of the trio were shown on Kosovan TV and splashed across the front pages of the press. Rumors and dark tales abounded, based on leaks believed by observers to have emanated from the office of Kosovo's Prime Minister, the "former" warlord Hashim Thaci, nominal leader of the statelet's organized crime-tainted government.
When seized by authorities one of the BND officers, Andreas J., demonstrated very poor tradecraft indeed. Among the items recovered by police, the operative's passport along with a notebook containing confidential and highly incriminating information on the situation in Kosovo were examined. According to media reports, the notebook contained the names of well-placed BND informants in the Prime Minister's entourage. According to this reading, the arrests were an act of revenge by Thaci meant to embarrass the German government.
But things aren't always as they seem.