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Thursday, June 03, 2010

PART 3 – THE FIGHT AGAINST YUGOSLAV INTELLIGENCE IN AUSTRALIA

Third part in a series on Yugoslav intelligence activities on Australian soil from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

HOW COPS STOPPED FLOOD OF WEAPONS IN MELBOURNE

By Sasha Uzunov

In 2007 Paul O'Sullivan, the then head of the Australia Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) warned that global terrorism would continue and there were no guarantees against more civilian casualties. In effect, all our law enforcement and security agencies can do is to minimise it as best as possible.

In light of this, a little known Victoria Police operation 20 years ago helped to stop the flood of illegal weapons getting onto the streets and into the hands of home grown terrorists. The impact it had was to send a message--loud and clear-- that overseas linked crime and terror were not going to be tolerated in the state of Victoria, Australia.

That story can now be told because one of the leading figures behind that operation is seriously ill and may not have long to live. Detective #####, who retired in 1998, was part of the PSG (Protective Services Group) within the Victoria Police at the old Russell Street offices in Melbourne’s city centre. He was tasked with investigating terrorist organisations including the Tamil Tigers, and ethnic-linked crime. He was very knowledgeable about the activities of Yugoslav intelligence (UDBa) on Australian soil and even knew some of the key agents of influence!

I got to know ##### in the late 1980s as a young reporter interested in ethnic-related crime. My parents are Macedonian migrants. He was a canny operator who would pump you for information and would never reveal anything unless it was in his interest to do so.

When he got wind of me investigating a leading UDBa agent of influence based in Melbourne with links to the Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) Socialist Left faction, he offered some fatherly advice by warning me that the agent of influence was “being protected by people high above.”

But ###### then proceeded to reveal to me that the agent of influence had between 1968 and 1979 amassed criminal convictions in the state of Victoria for stolen goods, illegal gaming and financial deception. The UDBa agent of influence was permitted to work as a state public servant despite his criminal record because ASIO had sealed his rap sheet from access. The inference being that the agent of influence may have been cultivated as a “double agent.”

One of his favourite warnings was" If you write anything about me, I'll chop you!"

He telephoned me out of the blue in 1990 asking for some information on a stolen weapons racket and if I had heard anything. He said he was deeply concerned about weapons getting into the hands of the wrong people. I told him I knew nothing and asked if he would elaborate.

But ###### being the loyal policeman did not go into detail. Months later, the story unfolded about a Police operation targeting stolen weapons. One of those unexpectedly caught in the dragnet was Oliver Bubevich (aka as Bubev, Bubevski), also the son of Macedonian migrants, and a Vic Roads (vehicle licensing office) employee and the then owner of a pub (bar) in Fitzroy, a Melbourne’s northern inner suburb. Bubevich was an obsessed illegal gun collector without links to organised crime or Yugoslav intelligence.

According to a Herald Sun report, dated 22 March 1991, "A MAN who hid a gun in his stove and ammunition in his kitchen cupboards was fined $2500 yesterday for possessing 15 unregistered firearms. Magistrate Mr David McLennan also ordered Oliver Bubevich to perform 300 hours of unpaid community work.

"Melbourne Magistrates' Court heard on Wednesday that Bubevich was fascinated with guns and had 23 weapons - all with serial numbers drilled out or stamped over. The weapons, hidden throughout his Thomastown house, were found when police raided the property last year. Bubevich, 36, of Winamarra Cres, pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful possession, one count of possessing silencers and 15 counts of possessing unregistered and unlicensed firearms.

The court was told police raided Bubevich's house after finding two unregistered handguns in his car and another two unregistered weapons in a second man's car after Bubevich had sold them to him.

"Bubevich denied supplying guns to the underworld and said his fascination with guns had led him to disregard the fact the serial numbers had been deleted. He told the court he had bought two of the guns from a man at a Fitzroy hotel and had found the rest on the site of a demolished Preston house.

" On 21 March 1991, the Herald Sun wrote: "Prosecutor Sen-Constable Maurice Lynn told the court Bubevich was arrested after police found two guns in his car on November 7, 1990. "They found two more guns, a .38 Rossi revolver and a .32 Webley and Scott pistol in a second man's car after Bubevich had sold them to him, he said. Sen-Constable Lynn said police then raided Bubevich's house and found 23 unregistered guns, two silencers and a large quantity of ammunition in kitchen cupboards.

"Bubevich's lawyer, Mr Peter Finkelstein, said his client was a "gun collector gone wrong". Magistrate David McLennan said he was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Bubevich had supplied guns to crime figures."

I lost contact with ###### when I joined the Australian Army as a soldier in 1995, serving until 2002. Recently, I heard from someone close to his family that he is seriously ill.

Victoria Police's motto is Uphold the Right...Tenez Le Droit...It certainly did that back in 1990-91 in keeping our streets safe from weapons falling into the hands of the bad guys. But we should never remain complacent.

(end)


http://teamuzunovmedia.blogspot.com/

Friday, May 07, 2010
PART 2 : The fight against Yugoslav intelligence

SECOND part in a series on Yugoslav intelligence activities on Australian soil from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

PATRIOT GAMES: ONE MAN’S FIGHT AGAINST UDBa
By Sasha Uzunov

During the 1970s, 80s and early 90s, an intelligence war was waged by the communist regime of Yugoslavia to intimidate and silence Australia’s Macedonian migrant community but one man, George Kostrevski, managed to fight the good fight.

In 1991, I met the feisty and well respected Kostrevski who was President of the Australian-Macedonian Welfare Council, in Melbourne’s western suburbs and a champion of free political thought. The AMWC is now known as the Macedonian Community Welfare Association (MCWA).

Kostrevski, who was a Socialist-Left Australian Labor Party (ALP) member and an admirer of legendary ALP right-wing kingmaker George Seitz, alleged that in 1983 he had been ordered by a local Yugoslav agent of influence in July 1983 to: “hold the Yugoslav political line…or he would not be allowed to return to Macedonia to visit relatives.”

Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic communist federation founded in 1945, modeled on the Soviet Union, and fell apart in 1991 into various independent nation states of Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Yugoslav intelligence (UDBa) later known as SDB, together with Yugoslav military counter-intelligence (KOS) were largely pre-occupied with silencing dissident Croats, Macedonians, Serbs and Albanians living in Western Europe, North America and Australia, who were agitating for independence from Yugoslavia.

UDBa was so ruthless and efficient it at one time rivaled the old Soviet KGB in liquidating opponents.

Communist strongman Marshal Josip Broz Tito ruled Yugoslavia until his death in 1980 and during the height of the Cold War managed a great balancing act between East and West. He was seen as an indirect ally of the West after his infamous split with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1949.

In the 1970s and 80s, a number of Australian left-wing politicians, including Victorian State MP Joan Coxsedge, began to allege that ASIO was turning a blind eye to extremist Croatian elements, who were secretly training on Australian soil to undertake terrorist attacks on Yugoslav territory or upon Yugoslav diplomatic missions in Australia.

In this atmosphere of terrorism mania during the 1970s Australia’s Croat community were looked upon as the bad guy. We now know that the alleged Croatian terrorism on Australian soil was the work of UDBa agent provocateurs.

Mr David Perrin, a Liberal Victorian (Australian) State Member of Parliament for Bulleen, in 1990 accused in parliament the Melbourne-based and tax-payer funded Australian Yugoslav Welfare Society (AYWS) of being a front for Yugoslav intelligence.

Kostrevski, despite the fear generated by Yugoslav intelligence (UDBa), refused to be silenced. He had tried to raise this issue with his comrades within the ALP Socialist Left but it fell on deaf ears. In frustration he met with the Liberal Perrin at the MP’s electoral office in June 1991. Kostrevski invited me to sit in on the discussion and asked I keep this quiet whilst he was alive in case his family was targeted.

Kostrevski named names, dates, places and extraordinary detail as to the activities of UDBa in Melbourne, in particular how Macedonian community organisations had been infiltrated.

He passed away in 2002 and was granted a posthumous Victorian State Award for Excellence in Multicultural Affairs.

Kostrevski was a humanitarian who believed in non-violence to combat UDBa as well as proving welfare services to his community. It would be fitting if The Republic of Macedonia, which broke away from communist Yugoslavia in 1991, awarded him a high state order posthumously for his services in defending human rights and freedom of speech.


PART 1 – published in scoop.co.nz

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1003/S00021.htm
Tuesday, March 02, 2010

ASIO’S POOR RECORD
By Sasha Uzunov

The alleged use of Australian passports by Mossad--Israeli intelligence—agents in a recent Middle East assassination suggest an impotent Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), which is responsible for our domestic safety. But ASIO has a poor record in tracking down the bad guys.

In 2006 The Australian reporter Cameron Stewart revealed that Chinese communist spies were running rampant in Canberra so much so that ASIO increased it recruitment of agents.
www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/spy-drive-to-tackle-chinese/story-e6frg6nf-1111112747905

Columnist John Birmingham has taken the mickey out of ASIO’s slick new job ads in search of nosey, latte-sipping spies. www.theage.com.au/opinion/blogs/blunt-instrument/the-man-with-the-golden--cufflinks-and-matching-tie-pin/20100224-p39q.html

It is both tragic and comical but ASIO has a poor record in catching the bad guys. The 1970s infiltration of Australia by then Yugoslav communist spies is a classic case.

Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic communist federation founded in 1945, modelled on the Soviet Union, and fell apart in 1991 into various independent nation states.

Yugoslav intelligence (UDBa) later known as SDB, together with Yugoslav military counter-intelligence (KOS) were largely pre-occupied with silencing dissident Croats, Macedonians, Serbs and Albanians living in Western Europe, North America and Australia, who were agitating for independence from Yugoslavia.

UDBa was so ruthless and efficient it at one time rivaled the old Soviet KGB and Mossad in liquidating opponents. In Munich, West Germany, a whole section of a cemetery was set-aside for Croats assassinated by UDBa.

Communist strongman Marshal Josip Broz Tito ruled Yugoslavia until his death in 1980 and during the height of the Cold War managed a great balancing act between East and West. He was seen as an indirect ally of the West after his infamous split with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1949.

A number of Australian left-wing politicians, including Victorian State MP Joan Coxsedge, began to allege that ASIO was turning a blind eye to extremist Croatian elements, who were secretly training on Australian soil to undertake terrorist attacks on Yugoslav territory or upon Yugoslav diplomatic missions in Australia.

In this atmosphere of terrorism mania during the 1970s Australia’s Croat community were looked upon as the bad guy.

No doubt this was not helped by the fact that a sizable number of Croats during World War II had collaborated with the Nazis. However, a large number had also fought against the Nazis as Partizans, including Franjo Tudjman later to become President of independent Croatia in 1991. But UDBa began to target the émigré Macedonian community in Australia, which had no history of large-scale Nazi collaboration, in fact the opposite.

Then there is Federal Attorney General Lionel Murphy’s infamous ASIO raid on 16 March 1973.

So much has been written about Murphy’s raid on ASIO. The controversial politician used the pretext that he was being kept in the dark by ASIO about alleged émigré Croatian terrorism on Australian soil aimed against the Yugoslav government. ALP Prime Minister Gough Whitlam said the Murphy raid was a mistake which hurt his government.

On 27 June 2007, I applied under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the media briefing notes of George Negus, Murphy’s Press Secretary and later celebrity war reporter, hoping if they could throw more light on the raid. But I ended hitting a bureaucratic brick wall.

We now know that the alleged Croatian terrorism on Australian soil was the work of UDBa. In 1991 legendary ABC TV investigative reporter Chris Masters dropped a bombshell on the Four Corners program.

Masters filed a story about The Croatian Six case. An agent provocateur set up members of Australia's Croatian community in 1979. Six Croats were imprisoned on false charges of wanting to plant bombs in Sydney. Masters tracked down the agent provocateur, Vitomir Visimovic, who was an ethnic Serb living in Bosnia but had passed himself off as a Croat.

In fact, ASIO, the Australian Federal Police (successor of the Commonwealth Police) and the infamous and corrupt New South Wales Police Special Branch were all aware that Visimovic was an UDBa operative but suppressed the information during the trial of the Croatian Six. Moreover, the alarming thing was the Australian authorities let the man depart the country. This was during Malcolm Fraser’s tenure as Prime Minister.

Masters’ older brother, fellow journalist and Rugby League Legend, Rugged Roy Masters wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on November 25, 2005:

“It is fashionable now to be a Croatian Australian, what with nearly half the Socceroos, including captain Mark Viduka, of Croatian background, plus Tony Santic, the owner of Makybe Diva, the triple Melbourne Cup-winning horse, and Andrew Bogut, the basketballer making a big impression in the United States.

“But when a young Scottish-born girl named Shirley, raised in north Queensland, started going out with Nikola Stedul, a Croatian-born cane cutter, in the early 1960s, her sister was horrified, asking, "Does he carry a knife?"

"Croatians were the bogymen then," Shirley, who married Stedul in 1965, said. "Like Muslims are today."

The Steduls, who live in the Melbourne suburb of Altona, after being adrift in Europe for 30 years because the Australian government would not renew Stedul's passport, warn the new anti-terrorism laws will create more problems than they are likely to solve. They claim a possible outcome is a society divided into the privileged and the proscribed, creating fertile ground for home-grown terrorism.

"Paradoxically, the police and security agencies will be more efficient but the population will be less secure," Stedul, 68, says.

“The Steduls accuse ASIO of conspiring with the Yugoslav secret police to prevent them returning to Australia and co-operating with a paid assassin, Vinko Sindicic, who fired six bullets into Stedul as he leaned through a car window outside their Edinburgh [UK] home on October 20, 1988.

“Two bullets entered his mouth and four were fired into his body, one nicking his spinal cord, causing a slight limp.

“Sindicic was arrested at Heathrow Airport after a neighbour had recorded the registration number of the hire car from which he had shot Stedul.

“The assassination attempt and the resulting trial, where Sindicic was sentenced to 32 years' jail, were given widespread publicity, and a film was produced for Scottish television. At the trial it was revealed that Sindicic had been in Australia in 1978, working with another Yugoslav agent on a plan to link Croatian political activists with terrorism.”

Television reporter Sarah Ferguson, the wife of ABC TV Lateline host Tony Jones, rehashed some of the discredited claims of Croatian terrorism on the now defunct Channel Nine program Sunday:

“The post-war migration boom brought not only cultural diversity, it brought ethnic divisions and old-country politics and foreign agents. It also spawned the first manifestations of domestic terrorism, a threat ASIO failed to deal with because the offenders were anti-communist Croatian nationalists.”

(The Spying Game, 2 April 2006, Sunday program)

Ferguson did not interview Chris Masters about his 1991 expose nor did she speak to anyone from the Croatian community.

Because my parents were Macedonian migrants to Australia, I naturally developed an interest in UDBa’s activities. I began to investigate the infiltration of the local Macedonian community by UDBa. My quest took me to Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia in 1993, which broke away from Yugoslavia together with Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1991. I spoke to Aleksander Dinevski, a former high-ranking official within the Interior Ministry, responsible for both the Police and Security Services.

Dinevski revealed he had read a number of files that confirmed UDBa had monitored and infiltrated Australia’s Macedonian community.

On 6 January 2006 I received a curious email out of the blue from Dr John Schindler, Associate Professor of Strategy and Policy, United States. Naval War College:

“I encountered your recent article discussing UDBa terrorism and was intrigued. I'm doing research into the topic of Yugoslav state security (UDBa, later SDB) anti-émigré operations during the Cold War, including assassinations.

“I've found some information you cite, including the ASIO scandals of the 1970s, but as an American I must confess some of the cases you cite (eg Croatian Six) were new to me. Have you published anything else on this topic? Any thoughts on where I ought to be looking for more info on UDBa operations in Australia?”

I explained to Dr Schindler that the Australian authorities, in particular ASIO, had turned a blind eye to UDBa operations on Australian soil or had tried to hush things up.

In 1974 Dr Blagoja Sambevski a Macedonian dissident living in West Germany was assassinated by having his skull smashed in ala Trotsky style by an UDBa hit man in a Munich train station. In 1981the hit man entered Australia on an unknown task but was quietly told to leave by immigration officials.

Mr David Perrin, a Liberal Victorian State MP for Bulleen, in 1990 accused in parliament the Melbourne-based and tax-payer funded Australian Yugoslav Welfare Society (AYWS) of being a front for Yugoslav intelligence.

Professor Nikola Zezov, an academic at Saints Kiril and Metodi (Cyril and Methodius) University in Skopje, has bravely explored Macedonia’s controversial communist past within Yugoslavia.

He is co-author of the 2005 ground-breaking book “The repressed and repression in contemporary Macedonian history” (Represijata I represiranite vo sovremena Makedonska istorija). He was given access to 14,000 intelligence files. He concluded that one in five Macedonians living in communist Yugoslavia (1945-91) were paid informers for UDBa. This is an alarming figure on par with East German communist intelligence, the Stasi, and its hold on the population.

In March 1993, Stevce Pavlovski, Macedonia’s Public Prosecutor told me in an interview he would not open an investigation into communist crimes because he would end up having to imprison fifty per cent of Macedonia’s old communists.

It is surprising that no Australian big name investigative reporter or scholar has ever bothered to access the old UDBa files held in the newly independent states of Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro (Crna Gora), and Kosovo. They must contain a goldmine of information on Australian politicians and journalists!

(end)

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