MOSCOW, Ru. – Russia’s internal intelligence agency, otherwise known as the Federal Security Service (FSB), has detained nine American men that were found to be in possession of ‘suspicious materials’ after they illegally gained access to a former Soviet nuclear test site in northeastern Kazakhstan.
“It was their intention to use [the] materials to manufacture a dirty bomb,” Yuri Ivanov, the ranking agent in charge of the investigation, told The Moscow Times on Friday. Russian authorities waited until the suspects had cleared security at Sochi International Airport and were preparing to board a direct flight to the United States before quickly moving in to secure the hazardous materials.
In early May, the FSB intercepted a series of communications that had been shared between two Twitter accounts located in the Midwestern United States. According to Ivanov, the cryptic messages prompted the FSB to launch an operation in conjunction with the Arystan, an anti-terror unit affiliated with the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan, meant to monitor and track the suspects’ movements upon their arrival in the former Soviet republic.
Using cell site simulation technology, the FSB tracked the Americans to the Semipalatinsk Test Site located on the steppe in northeast Kazakhstan where they later observed the conspirators, some of whom were carrying Gieger counters, gather irradiated debris into several large backpacks.
Under intensive questioning by Russian intelligence agents, several of the suspects declared they were affiliated with the American Gamergate movement and admitted they had conspired to carry out a series of “high profile” attacks in the United States aimed at “eradicating women from the video game industry.”
The suspects, all of whom are in their early thirties, exhibited a strong distrust toward two female FSB officers who were involved in the interrogation. “They refused to even speak until they were certain the women were gone,” Ivanov said, adding that a number of the American men accused their FSB interrogators of being ‘SJWs,’ or social justice warriors. “It was all very strange,” Ivanov remarked.
In a show of good faith, the Russian government has since turned all but one of the suspects – who reportedly died during questioning – over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. counterpart to the FSB.