A secretive North Korean dissident group mounted a daring raid on one of the regime’s diplomatic compounds in Europe just days before the country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, held a summit with President Trump in Vietnam.
The brazen assault in Madrid occurred in broad daylight in February. Masked, Korean-speaking operatives quietly made their way into the building and tied up the staff before making off with computers and mobile phones in two getaway vehicles.
The raid was first detailed in the American press by the Washington Post.
Sources told the Post that the Cheollima Civil Defense, which is committed to overthrowing Kim’s regime, was behind the attack.
Officials from the American, North Korean and Spanish governments all declined comment.
But sources told the Washington Post that the American government had no involvement.
The operation was blown after a woman escaped, neighbors heard her screams for help and called the police.
But when Spanish cops arrived, a man answered the door of the embassy and insisted there was nothing wrong.
Just minutes later, the assailants made their escape, blasting past the cops outside in two speeding luxury cars, which they abandoned blocks away.
No police reports were filed.
Experts told the paper that the computers and phones seized by the group likely contained a treasure trove of intelligence, including details on North Korean efforts to circumvent crippling economic sanctions.
The dissident group was little-known before it successfully whisked the family of Kim’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, out of Macau in 2017 after North Korean security forces assassinated him using a nerve agent.
Kim Jong Nam’s 21-year-old son, Kim Han Sol, was widely believed to also be in Pyongyang’s crosshairs because of his criticism of Kim’s brutal regime.
There were “attempts by several parties to interfere” with the evacuation, a representative of the group, Cheollima Civil Defense told the Wall Street Journal in an October 2017 story.