One of the very first decisions Viktor Orbán made as prime minister was the establishment of an Anti-Terrorist Center (Terrorelhárítási Központ or TEK). Not that Hungary needed an anti-terrorist unit. After all, the Hungarian police had such a thing already. The suspicion immediately arose that this new commando unit’s basic function was to be a kind of private army for the protection of Viktor Orbán. Such a suspicion was not entirely baseless because the unit’s leadership came entirely from people who had served as Viktor Orbán’s bodyguard while in opposition.
The chief body guard, János Hajdú, used to work for the National Security Office, but after 2002 he left the organization and joined Orbán in “exile.” For eight years Hajdú accompanied Orbán everywhere he went. He sat next to the driver’s seat while important and highly secret conversations were taking place in the back. Hajdú could be trusted implicitly. The man knew how to keep a secret and how to unearth secrets. He developed a veritable information gathering organization for the party and for Viktor Orbán.
Normally it is the Köztársasági Őrezred (Republican Guard Regiment) that is responsible for protecting the country’s high dignitaries–the prime minister, the president, the speaker of the house, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court. But if this practice had continued, not only would the trusted bodyguard have been without a job but also the members of an elaborate and large commando unit whose sole job was the protection of Viktor Orbán. There are signs that Orbán has over the years become quite paranoid–sometimes with good reason. For example, on the fateful afternoon of October 23, 2006, when he obviously had an inkling that the peaceful demonstration might turn violent, he had an armored car standing by in which to leave the scene in a great hurry.
In any case, an anti-terrorist unit was set up headed by Hajdú, who was named brigadier general. The unit received ten billion forints at a time when the police’s financial troubles were only too well known. There are stories that they didn’t have enough money for gasoline. On the other hand, not long ago TEK purchased some very expensive Mercedes SUVs.
Considering its cost and the fanfare at its creation, in the last year and a half little has been heard of TEK. But two days ago MTI issued a newsflash: “Members of the Terrorelhárítási Központ early Monday morning seized almost 100 firearms with live ammunition in Vecsés at one of the custom-free warehouses.” The news came straight from János Hajdú, who added that the military weapons had come from London by air and had arrived at the Ferenc Liszt International Airport on Saturday.
An hour later MTI gave more details based on János Hajdú’s press conference. Among the seized weapons were machine guns, handguns, pistols, and sniper rifles with telescopes. As soon as the boxes containing the weapons had been unloaded, the plane carrying them turned around and left the airport. The next day, on Sunday, a shipping company moved the boxes to Vecsés from where the members of TEK “as a result of secret information gathering” seized the shipment early Monday morning.
By the time of this press conference, at least one reporter must have known something because he asked Hajdú whether the weapons seized were not in fact props to be used in Brad Pitt’s film “World War Z” being filmed in Hungary. By that time, it seems to me, Hajdú must have realized that his great discovery might end up being the butt of jokes because “he refused either to deny or to confirm” the possibility that the guns might not belong to a terrorist group. The only thing he said was that even if the weapons had something to do with Brad Pitt’s film, “he wouldn’t have allowed the importation of any weapons capable of firing only two weeks before the celebration of the anniversary of October 23.” As it turned out, Hajdú doesn’t even have the authority to give such orders. And gun experts ascertained that the weapons had been altered so that no live ammunition could be fired from them. They can shoot only blanks.
Moreover, it turned out that the film company had the necessary permits to import these props to Hungary. There was a detailed list of the contents. But this didn’t seem to impress Hajdú and his men. They questioned Béla Gajdos, a weapons supervisor for “World War Z,” and for good measure they searched his house and confiscated the permits received from the proper Hungarian authorities.
Hajdú is clearly embarrassed. He managed to make Hungary the laughing stock of the international media. In English alone I found over 600 articles on the subject. According to The New York Times “if Hungary ever finds itself the target of an undead invasion, its police force should now be well supplied to defend the nation.”