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Russian saboteurs likely behind arson attack on German factory, security officials tell WSJ

by Nate Ostiller June 24, 2024 10:36 AM 2 min read
First responders at the scene of a fire at a factory owned by the German metal manufacturer Diehl outside of Berlin on May 3, 2024. (Christoph Soeder/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Russian saboteurs were allegedly behind an arson attack on a Berlin factory owned by German metal manufacturer Diehl, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on June 24, citing unnamed security officials.

The factory, which belongs to Diehl Metal Applications, a subsidiary of the Diehl group that manufactures IRIS-T air defense systems used by Ukraine, caught on fire in May, resulting in the destruction of much of the building.

At the time, widely circulated social media posts alleged that Russian operatives had attacked a factory producing defense material, and Russian news claimed that the factory that manufactures IRIS-T systems had burned down. The factory in question was actually separate from Diehl's defense production subsidiary, and there was no evidence that it was involved in creating military equipment.

The factory has since resumed operations.

German investigators initially said that the fire was likely accidental, and Diehl's insurers issued a report on June 21 saying that it was the result of technical problems. At the same time, a company spokesperson acknowledged that the fire may have been caused by "sabotage."

Unnamed security officials told the WSJ that a number of details revealed in the subsequent investigation point to Russian involvement and the direct work of "experienced professionals."

Two German officials said that "electronic-communications intercepts that provided evidence of Russia's involvement weren’t admissible in German courts, preventing authorities from clearly attributing the attack and pursuing criminal charges."

Western intelligence officials have warned about increasing Russian sabotage operations across Europe.

Several suspects have been arrested in recent months in Germany, Austria, Estonia, and other countries for allegedly spying for Russia or other forms of collaboration with Russian intelligence.

FT: Russia plotting ‘violent sabotage’ across Europe, intelligence agencies warn
Several high-profile incidents in recent weeks have put a spotlight on cases of attempted sabotage by people accused of working on the Kremlin’s behalf.

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