News you may have missed #741

Glenn CarleBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►MI6 role in rendition could be concealed in new bill. Libyan government officials Sami al-Saadi and Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who allege that they were taken by rendition by Britain to Libya eight years ago, are expected to begin legal proceedings against the British government and Jack Straw, Britain’s former foreign secretary, next month. However, after pressure from the security services, MI5 and MI6, the British government is preparing to publish a Justice and Security Bill that could allow these cases to be held in their entirety behind closed doors.
►►Aussie spy agency defends new headquarters. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation says its new headquarters in Canberra is not at risk of being spied upon, despite the use of a lot of glass. ASIO director general David Irvine told a senate committee on Thursday it would be impossible for someone with a high resolution camera on the other side of Lake Burley Griffin to spy on the nation’s spies. Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam had asked whether the design of the “glass palace” could threaten the secrecy of its work.
►►Good interview with ex-CIA officer Glenn Carle. In this interview, Carle, a retired CIA case officer who wrote The Interrogator: An Education, says his former employers have called his publisher asking them to pulp his book; they rang every major network to prevent him going on air. They are, he says several times, “vicious” and have perpetrated a stain on America’s national character.

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News you may have missed #712

Abdel Hakim BelhajBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►New US spy satellite could include ‘domestic surveillance. Last week, a new US spy satellite was launched into orbit as part of a secretive military program enabling the surveillance of Earth from space. An official at the Vandenberg base told The Los Angeles Times that the NROL-25 was part of a “national security payload”, which could mean it is to be used for any number of purposes, possibly including domestic surveillance.
►►US steps up intelligence and sabotage missions in Iran. American intelligence agencies are ramping up intelligence and sabotage missions focused on Iran’s nuclear program, according to The Washington Post. Officials from the National Security Agency have increased efforts to intercept email and electronic communications coming from Tehran, according to reports in The Post‘s Sunday edition. The CIA and other agencies have also ramped up sabotage missions in the country, geared toward disrupting Iran’s ongoing nuclear work, the paper reports.
►►MI6 ‘considers paying off’ Libyan official. Britain’s MI6 chiefs allegedly plan to offer more than £1 million ($1.6 million) hush money to a Libyan who claims British spies sent him to be tortured by the Gaddafi regime. The Secret Intelligence Service is scrambling to prevent Abdel Hakim Belhaj releasing details of his case following the revelation that a Labour Party minister sanctioned his extraordinary rendition —contravening UK policy on torture.

News you may have missed #654

Abdel Hakim Belhaj►►Libyan military commander sues British intelligence. Just as he said he would, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who commands the new Libyan military forces in Tripoli, has sued Britain for its role in his rendition into imprisonment and torture at the hands of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. He said he resorted to legal action after waiting in vain for the British government to offer an apology for his seven years spent in the jails of the secret police.
►►Argentine Admiral fired over espionage scandal. The head of the Argentine Navy, Admiral Jorge Godoy, has stepped down after being accused of illegal espionage. He has been indicted for alleged practices of “domestic intelligence” –which are prohibited by Argentina’s laws– against political leaders and of human rights activists, in the years between 2003 and 2006.
►►US intelligence warned of strive after US Iraq pullout. This is what Reuters news agency reports, citing anonymous sources inside the US government. Then again, US intelligence agencies warned in 2002 of increasing strife in case of a US invasion in Iraq, and nobody in government listened to them. So why would anyone listen to them now?

Ex-CIA officer points to al-Qaeda banners appearing in Libya

Charles S. Faddis

Charles S. Faddis

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Amidst the excitement in the West over the toppling of the late Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, few have been paying attention at the frequent appearances of the al-Qaeda banner in locations around Libya. The characteristic black flag bears the Arabic inscription of the shahada, the Islamic creed, which states that “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger [prophet]”. Within hours following the official pronouncement of the lynching of Colonel Gaddafi, al-Qaeda banners were flying over the de facto headquarters of Libya’s US-backed National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi, as well as in numerous other locations around the North African country. There have even been reports of threats leveled against reporters who were observed trying to photograph or film the unmistakable banners. Former CIA covert operations officer Charles Faddis, who spent several years working in the Middle East, has penned a new article urging Western policy makers to stop viewing the NTC as a force promoting some sort of Western-type democratic administration in Libya. Undoubtedly, he says, some NTC members do “wish for a Libya with a Western style democratic government”. But the NTC is an umbrella group bringing together “individuals from many walks of life in the opposition”, he says, including fighters motivated primarily by tribal and regional loyalties, as well as Islamist activists guided by distinctly conservative interpretations of the Qur’an. One such activist is Mustafa Abdul Jalil, leader of the NTC, who in his historic celebratory speech following the formal end of the civil war, told ecstatic supporters that, from now on, Libya would be “an Islamic state”, and that all legal provisions that conflicted with the Sharia —Qur’anic law— would be invalidated. Since that day, there have been reports of beauty salons closing and of women being forced to wear the hijab, says Faddis. Read more of this post

Secret MI6 documents warn about al-Qaeda-linked Libyan rebels

Abdel Hakim Belhaj

Abdel Belhaj

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A secret intelligence report, found in the British ambassador’s abandoned residence in Tripoli, warns that some of Libya’s most active anti-Gaddafi rebels have direct links with al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups. The 58-page document, authored by MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency, includes complete profiles of a dozen senior members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) based in Britain. It is widely believed that, in 2007, LIFG merged with al-Qaeda; but at least two of its members, Sami al-Saadi and Abdul Hakim Belhaj, currently hold leading positions in Libya’s National Transitional Council —the group that rules the country following the Muammar Gaddafi’s demise. Belhaj, also known as Abdullah al-Sadiq, revealed in September this year that in 2004 he was snatched by a CIA team in Malaysia and secretly transported to Thailand, where he says he was “directly tortured by CIA agents”. The CIA then renditioned him to Libya, where he says he was systematically tortured until his release from prison, in 2010. The documents discovered in the British ambassador’s Tripoli residence reveal that MI6 helped the CIA target several LFIG members after 2003; they also reveal that thee British intelligence agency  concluded that the kidnapping and torture of Belhaj and others was both tactically and strategically counterproductive. The report, which is marked “UK/Libya eyes only – Secret”, mentions that the abduction of senior LFIG members allowed even more extremist members to rise to the top of the group, and galvanized its fighters in Libya, Algeria, Iraq, and elsewhere. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #597

Abdel Hakim Belhaj

Abdel Belhaj

►►Inside the CIA’s secret Thai prison. The United States Central Intelligence Agency appears to have used Bangkok’s former Don Muang International Airport as a secret prison to torture Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who is now the commander of rebel Libyan military forces in Tripoli. If true, Belhaj’s allegations are the first public descriptions of a CIA black site in Thailand. Bangkok-based journalist Richard S Ehrlich investigates.
►►How is the US government using security contractors? “Mark Lowenthal, who was a high-ranking CIA official before joining the contractor work force, told the [US House Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee] that during his time as assistant director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production, half of his staff was made up of contractors”.
►►Leaked cables show Australia nuclear power push. In 2008, John Carlson, head of the Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office, which acts as the country’s nuclear safeguard authority, advised the then prime minister Kevin Rudd that no scheme to limit carbon emissions would succeed without the building of civilian nuclear power stations, according to leaked US diplomatic cables. When contacted by the media, Carlson refused to confirm or deny the accuracy of the revelations.

News you may have missed #587 (Libya edition)

Abdel Hakim Belhaj

Abdel Belhaj

►►Inside Libyan spy overlord’s low-tech HQ. “Handwritten notes prepared for officials over the past months show that Libya’s spooks had a good grasp of who was sending weapons to the rebels. However, its contacts with MI6 and the CIA had clearly disintegrated, as a series of despairing pleadings reveal”.
►►UK government to investigate Libyan rendition claims. British Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday that an independent inquiry should investigate evidence that British intelligence agencies were complicit in the rendition of terrorist suspects to Libya, where they were tortured by the Gaddafi regime.
►►Libyan rebel says female MI6 spy ignored his pleas for help. Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who is commander of Libya’s rebel military, says a female MI6 spy was among the Britons who flew to Tripoli to interrogate him, after the CIA abducted him in Malaysia, and delivered him to the hands of the Libyan regime.

CIA Helped Gaddafi Torture Libyan Dissidents, Documents Show

Abdel Hakim Belhaj

Abdel Belhaj

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Back in February, when Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi blamed the popular revolt against him on al-Qaeda, he was ridiculed in the international media. But documents discovered at an abandoned Libyan government office complex show that the Libyan rebels’ supreme military commander was abducted in 2004 by the CIA, which suspected him of links to al-Qaeda. Abdel Hakim Belhaj, also known as Abdullah al-Sadiq, was snatched by a CIA team in Malaysia, and secretly transported to Thailand, where he says he was “directly tortured by CIA agents”. The CIA then renditioned him to Libya, where he says he was tortured routinely until his release from prison, in 2010. In the 1980s, Belhaj was a member of the foreign Mujahedeen summoned by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Upon returning to Libya in the early 1990s, he led the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an al-Qaeda-inspired armed organization that unsuccessfully sought to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi. Ironically, Belhaj is now the Tripoli-based military commander of the Libyan National Transitional Council, and says that he wants a full apology from the United States and Britain “for the way he was transported to prison in Libya in 2004”. But the former Mujahedeen is one of several terrorism suspects delivered to Libya by Western intelligence agencies in the years after 9/11, according to Libyan government documents discovered by Human Rights Watch (HRW) workers at the office of Libyan former intelligence chief and foreign minister Moussa Koussa. The documents show that Libya’s External Security Organization maintained extremely close relations with German, Canadian, British, and American intelligence services. Read more of this post

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