Why does the US Embassy in Helsinki need a big warehouse near Malmi Airport and what are the contents of thousands of kilograms of cargo sent to Helsinki from Baghdad?
A dilapidated warehouse in Malmi is being used by the US Embassy for unknown operations after a Wikileaks release revealed its location.
The anonymous looking building on Takoraudantie is notable only for the new 427 meter perimeter fence that according to the Wikileaks' database was ordered by the US Embassy in April 2018.
Situated across the street from the main entrance of Malmi Airport, the warehouse with its 3 meter high security fence appears an unlikely location for official embassy business. Neighbouring companies include a car yard and a tyre warehouse.
Helsinki Times visited the perimeters this weekend. Security personnel, young Finns in uniforms with American flags on their arms, appeared nervous and suspicious when asked to comment on the warehouse and refused to even confirm the order of the new fence structure which now surrounds the compound. At one point a security guard appeared in a second floor window to carefully monitor this reporter's movements along Takoraudantie.
Mysterious parcels from Baghdad
The Wikileaks' database has also revealed mysterious packages being sent to the US Embassy in Finland from their embassy in Baghdad.
The database displaying US embassy procurements around the world shows that tons of cargo are being distributed to Helsinki and other US embassies via regular airfreight cargo deliveries from Baghdad.
Twelve consignments, each logged at 5000 kilograms are recorded as sent to Helsinki and 23 other West European US embassies – an average of 2500 kilograms per US embassy.
The reason for such a vast volume of embassy deliveries from Baghdad is as yet unknown but this latest disclosure follows Wikileaks news that the US Consulate in Frankfurt was a purchase and postal centre for distributing spy equipment to other US embassies worldwide. Concerns are now raised that the US Embassy in Baghdad is also being used as a main distribution centre for secret operations.
In addition to Finland and Western Europe, the Wikileaks database shows that the US embassy in Baghdad disseminates hundreds of tons worldwide, with more than 300,000 kilograms recorded as being delivered Stateside alone.
Incoming diplomatic mail between embassies receives customs clearance and is automatically classified as a US government shipment.
The 80 page order list also details massive movements of road and air freight between Basra in the south of Iraq and Erbil in the north. No indication of the cargo contents are provided but the order sheets reveal convoys of trucks and vehicles were hired by Baghdad's US embassy for the mysterious shipments.
Spy gadgets and surveillance operations
The disclosure of the building's use by the US Embassy in Finland comes in light of revelations about US embassy spying activities worldwide, as featured in the Wikileaks' US embassy shopping list database. In a published list of more than 16000 miscellaneous items, requests also appear for recording devices disguised as pens, lighters, glasses, watches and even spy shirt buttons.
Although US embassy procurements are public information, Wikileaks new database allows for country specific searches, giving clearer evidence of US embassy involvement in secret surveillance operations in certain parts of the world.. The timing of this latest Wikileaks' release came just hours after its Twitter accounts were cyber attacked late on Friday, ahead of the Christmas holiday.
According to the database, requests made by the US Embassy in Finland appear to be for everyday items. Procurements include a tractor as well as services for snow removal, plumbing, gardening and cleaning. However, in light of 'Tactical Spy Equipment' purchased by US embassies elsewhere the existence of the warehouse compound near Malmi Airport raises concerns about potential secret operations closer to home. US Embassy official responsible for ordering the warehouse perimeter fence, was unavailable for comment.
Worldwide, the Wikileaks' online data reveals that Latin America is the main target for purchases of spying equipment. Camera hats and USB drives as well as night visors and binoculars were among items procured for the US embassy in Colombia. But topping the list for requested surveillance items was the US embassy in El Salvador where the purchase of 'Tactical Spy Equipment' totalled 94 items.
Back in 2017 Wikileaks documents revealed that the American consulate in Frankfurt had served as a covert base to carry out digital spy operations. Using the US Embassy shopping list database, Germany's Der Spiegel has now identified the consulate as a main buyer of spy equipment for diplomatic missions across Europe.
These latest Wikileaks' revelations further highlight the role of US embassies in espionage activities across the globe. Some reports suggest over 80 US embassies worldwide conceal joint NSA-CIA “Special Collection Service” radio and electronic surveillance equipment. Such concerns add to the questions concerning activities at the Malmi warehouse and the secrecy surrounding it.
However, the database of US embassy shopping lists reveals some less concerning items too with one evoking the craziness of an Inspector Clouseau rather than a cold, calculating 007: A person to count fish and clean the pond was sought by the consulate in Guayaquil, Ecuador after officials lost track of how many fish they possessed.
The searchable Wikileaks database and info about Finland related activities can be found HERE.
Will Sillitoe - HT
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