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  • Russia and the United States have long been  two of the largest international powers in  

  • the world. As a result, both countries have their  own specialised and expansive security agencies,  

  • the Central Intelligence Agency –  or CIAand the Federal Security  

  • Service of the Russian Federationor FSB. Established shortly after the Second World  

  • War in 1947, the CIA has been responsible  for the gathering and analysis of highly  

  • sensitive information from all over the world on  behalf of the United States' federal government.  

  • The FSB was formed more recently, in 1995, asmodern replacement for the Soviet Union's KGB.  

  • It's tasked with various responsibilities such  as counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism  

  • operations, surveillance, border  security, and investigating any  

  • violations of Russia's federal law. We previously covered how the CIA and  

  • KGB fared against each other in 'CIA vs KGB  – Which Was Better During the Cold War?',  

  • but how do their modern, present-day equivalents  hold up? We're pitting the CIA and the FSB  

  • against each other, to see if we can determine  which of them is the superior spy agency

  • So, what do each of these agencies actually  do? The main role of the CIA is to serve as the  

  • United States foreign intelligence servicemeaning that they are designed to gather  

  • intel internationally. The CIA, in theoryholds less jurisdiction to operate on home  

  • soil. Any investigations and operations that take  place within America itself are usually handled  

  • by other agencies, such as the Federal Bureau  of Investigation, otherwise known as the FBI

  • This is actually the first key  difference between the CIA and the FSB.  

  • While the CIA's focus is on external threats  and intelligence gathering, the FSB's role  

  • is to safeguard the Russian state from within. While the nature of the FSB is perhaps more akin  

  • to the FBI, that doesn't mean they haven't been  involved in some CIA-style secret and dangerous  

  • operations., or that they don't have some pretty  gnarly skeletons in the closet. So, with that in  

  • mind, how do the two spy agencies compare in  terms of their dark and duplicitous deeds

  • Let's start with one of the many secrets  that the CIA likes to keep under wraps.  

  • Did you know that the Central Intelligence  Agency has a top-secret assassination unit?  

  • Conspiracy theorists and even official sources  have linked the CIA to a number of infamous,  

  • high-profile and historically significant  assassination attempts, from Cuban revolutionary  

  • Fidel Castro to Osama Bin-Laden. However, it was  revealed that in response to the September 11th  

  • attack on the World Trade Centre, US President  George Bush authorised the Central Intelligence  

  • Agency to use a covert assassination unit in order  to track down and eliminate members of Al-Qaeda

  • Journalist Evan Wright highlighted that this  marked thefirst time the U.S. government  

  • outsourced a covert assassination service  to private enterpriseas the CIA brought in  

  • private contractors to carry out their secretive  assassinations. The entire operation was even  

  • hidden from Congress themselves, meaning that  the CIA had the power to abduct or kill anyone  

  • they believed to be associated with Al-Qaedawithout their actions being traced back to the  

  • US government. That's a scary level of power  and freedom for an organisation to be granted,  

  • made even more scary by the fact  it was kept top secret for so long.  

  • No information about these assassinations was  known to the public until almost a decade after  

  • President Bush had authorised the CIA to conduct  them, and there's even rumours that the CIA are  

  • still using private security contractors to  carry out assassinations to this very day

  • The FSB has just as many dark secrets of their  own, however. For example, did you know that  

  • the FSB runs their own covert kill squad? NoWell, that's probably because they don't want  

  • you knowing. Meet the Alpha Group. These guys  are one of Russia's toughest military squads,  

  • an elite team run by the FSB themselves. Very  little is known about the actual directive of  

  • the Alpha Group, although many believe it's their  job to act under direct orders from Russia's  

  • political leaders, meaning these guys most likely  answer to President Vladimir Putin himself – a  

  • leader infamous for killing off critics. So, what exactly is the Alpha Group? Officially,  

  • they're a sub-group of Spetsnaz, Russia's special  forces. First established by the KGB in 1974,  

  • control over the Alpha Group was assumed by  the FSB when they were founded to replace the  

  • KGB in 1995, and the Alpha Group has been in  their back pocket ever since. Their main job  

  • is to act as a counter-terrorism unit, responding  directly to any violent attacks that may occur.  

  • Of course, that doesn't mean the FSB couldn't  find other uses for their private elite squad

  • One of the Alpha Group's most famous operations  – the Nord-Ost siegetook place under the  

  • newly-instated FSB only seven years after  the Federal Security Service was established.  

  • On October 23rd of 2002, a group of almost  forty Chechen terrorists stormed a concert  

  • hall in Moscow taking 916 people hostage during  an in-progress performance of a musical called  

  • 'Nord-Ost'. Several days of failed negotiations  later, the FSB authorised a head-on assault,  

  • deploying Alpha Group to eliminate  the threat and rescue the hostages

  • However, this wasn't to be any small  feat. The Alpha Group soon found that  

  • the entire concert hall had been rigged with  explosives that could be remotely triggered  

  • by the terrorists at the slightest  sign of anyone trying to get inside,  

  • which would very likely have killed everybody  inside. Given this tricky situation,  

  • the FSB instructed the Alpha Group to pump  a nerve gas through the ventilation system  

  • as a way of incapacitating the terrorists  while they gained access to the concert hall

  • With precise fire from the silenced weaponsall terrorists in the hall were eliminated.  

  • We shot without fail - hitting the body could lead  to the explosives' detonation. That's why we aimed  

  • for their heads,” said one anonymous former  officer of Alpha Group. Apparently, it took as  

  • little as five minutes for the team to eliminate  every single one of the terrorists inside the main  

  • concert hall, and a further ten to track down  and take out any stragglers in adjacent rooms

  • The Nord-Ost siege was over in a quarter of an  hour, and while challenging for the elite Alpha  

  • Group, the FSB's direction and coordination  resulted in them saving hundreds of civilians.  

  • However, sixty-seven were killed in the siege and  a further sixty-three died in hospital shortly  

  • after, supposedly as a result of the nerve  gas that was pumped into the concert hall,  

  • and ambulances being unprepared to treat  any hostages that were exposed to it

  • Naturally, the CIA has plenty of operatives  of its own at its disposal, enough to rival  

  • the FSB's Alpha Group. What you probably didn't  know, is that some of them may even have psychic  

  • powers. It sounds like something taken straight  from David Cronenberg's Scanners, or even  

  • the MK-Ultra offshoot responsible for giving  Eleven her powers in Netflix's Stranger Things,  

  • but the CIA are supposedly highly interested  in the application of psychic abilities

  • According to declassified  documents released in 2017,  

  • they tested the abilities of one Uri GellerGeller is a British-Israeli TV illusionist,  

  • best known for bending spoons supposedly  with the raw power of his mind.  

  • While this is a trick that has long been  met with scepticism from the British public,  

  • Uri Geller's illusions allegedly managed to draw  the attention of the CIA themselves. According  

  • to Geller himself, the Central Intelligence  Agency wanted to ascertain if the entertainer  

  • was truly clairvoyant and telepathic. He even  made the claim thatThey wanted me to stand  

  • outside the Russian embassy in Mexico, and erase  floppy discs being flown out by Russian agents.” 

  • This was all a part of a bizarre CIA  programme known as 'Stargate' – yes,  

  • exactly like the moviewhich was focused  on recruiting 'psychic warriors' to operate  

  • on behalf of the Central Intelligence AgencyAfter all, gathering intelligence becomes a  

  • much easier job when you've got an operative  that can literally read an enemy's mind

  • The strangeness of the CIA's activities doesn't  end with private assassins and psychic powers  

  • though. In fact, in a classic, old-school  spy fashion, the Central Intelligence Agency  

  • may have perfected the recipe for invisible  ink. Often synonymous with spies, invisible  

  • ink is a great way to conceal top secret  instructions for undercover operatives  

  • or to keep highly-sensitive information  classified and away from any prying eyes.  

  • Featured within those same declassified documents  from 2017, is the CIA's own recipe for homemade  

  • invisible ink; just like grandma used to make! The recipe goes as followsMake a silver print,  

  • fixed and bleached in mercury chlorideTo make visible, dip in hypo.” Okay,  

  • so maybe not the easiest concoction to recreateThe report featuring this recipe also includes  

  • instructions on how to open sealed letters without  the recipient knowing, as well as what to do with  

  • messages that are printed with invisible ink  on the human body. According to the report,  

  • in order to destroy any secret messages  written on a body, that body needs to be  

  • thoroughly scrubbed down, and washed with lime  or lemon juice to hide any traces of the message

  • Russia's own intelligence agency has their own  preferred modus operandi, of course. During  

  • March of 2018, in Wiltshire Cathedral City, UKfather and daughter Sergei and Yulia Skripal  

  • were found on a bench with foam spilling from  their mouths after being exposed to a deadly,  

  • poisonous nerve agent known as 'Novichok'. Skripal  was an intelligence officer who'd been moved to  

  • the UK in 2010 as part of a spy exchangeThis assassination was eventually linked,  

  • after an investigation conducted by the UK  government, to agents working for the GRU,  

  • another of Russia's intelligence services. Far from the James Bond-style spy thriller  

  • mystery of the CIA and their invisible ink, this  incident was far more tragic. While the attack was  

  • carried out by the GRU, it's important to remember  that the FSB could very easily conduct a similar  

  • attack, after all, they've already proved their  fondness for nerve agents in the Nord-Ost siege

  • It's fair to say that the nations of Russia and  America haven't always had the best relationship,  

  • and trust between the two countries has  never quite recovered since the Cold War.  

  • This is something that can be seen mirrored in  the interactions between the CIA and FSB. The  

  • ever-present rivalry between the United States  and the Russian Federation persists even today.  

  • It is widely believed that the FSB was directly  involved in the email leaks that undermined  

  • Hillary Clinton's presidential campaignAdditionally, they have also played a hand in  

  • supporting a number extremist parties in Europemurdered Chechen opposition leaders in both Turkey  

  • and Austria, and perhaps most infamously of allinfluenced the 2016 US presidential election

  • On January the 10th 2017, a dossier  published by Buzzfeedalbeit unverified and  

  • uncorroboratedsuggested that the FSB had been  collecting compromising evidence on Donald Trump.  

  • Many suspected that the goal of this was to  blackmail the would-be president into acting  

  • as Vladimir Putin's puppet at the head of the  US government. Whether this was true or not,  

  • President Trump's actions towards Russia have been  seen by many as soft, and many military members  

  • considered his defense of Russia even after  learning of bounties put on US troop's heads  

  • by Russian agents, as tantamount to treason. The CIA aren't above interfering in Russia's  

  • affairs either, though. Decades prior to the 2016  election, they recruited a Russian official who  

  • gradually began to climb the ranks of the  country's government. This informant within  

  • the Kremlin became one of the CIA's most valuable  and protected resources, feeding them information  

  • that pointed to the potential involvement of  Russia and the FSB in the 2016 election. However,  

  • this informant, who served as the CIA's only eyes  into the inner workings of the Russian government,  

  • was eventually extracted from the country for  his own safety, with the CIA still protecting  

  • his identity to this day; although some believe  it may have been the ill-fated Sergei Skripal

  • So, which is the better spy agency? In one cornersecret assassins, psychic powers and invisible  

  • ink. In the other, highly-skilled elite spec  ops team and a lot of nerve agents. It's almost  

  • took close to call, we'd like to think that CIA  assassins with powerful telepathic abilities could  

  • hold their own against the FSB, and who knowsmaybe somewhere in the world, in the shadows  

  • where civilians aren't allowed to look, a fight  like that is going on, and we'd never even know

  • But if we're keeping our feet firmly  rooted in the realm of realitymeaning,  

  • psychic warriors need to be discounted, and  secret mind control projects like MK-Ultra  

  • are just seen as expensive and unethical  failureswe feel like we need to give  

  • this one to Russia. While the CIA's history  as a spy agency is definitely illustrious and  

  • influentialjust ask the many countries  and organisations they infiltratedthey  

  • don't quite match up to the calculated  ruthlessness of the modern, Russian FSB.  

  • Not to assassin shame you or anything, CIA, but  at least the FSB doesn't need to subcontract its  

  • extra-judicial murders. Just saying. Better enjoy this show while you can,  

  • in case some shadowy government agents  come knocking at our door after this one

  • Now be sure to check outCIA vs KGB –  Which Was Better During the Cold War?”  

  • andCIA Project Stargate & Other Declassified  Secrets - How Successful Were They?”.

Russia and the United States have long been  two of the largest international powers in  

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USA’s CIA vs Russia’s FSB - Who has the Most Elite Spy Agency?

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/29
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