News you may have missed #695

Nicolas Sarkozy and Muammar GaddafiBy IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
►►Spies meet over Syrian crisis. CIA chief David Petraeus met Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday for closed-door talks focusing on the crisis across the border in Syria. Meanwhile, General Murad Muwafi, who heads Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate, left Cairo on Tuesday for a visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Also, US General Ronald Burgess, Defense Intelligence Agency Director, has arrived in Egypt and is expected to meet with several Egyptian officials to discuss the situation in Syria.
►►Gaddafi contributed €50m to Sarkozy election fund. Damaging new claims have emerged about the funding of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign and his links with former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The French investigative website Mediapart claims to have seen a confidential note suggesting Gaddafi contributed up to €50 million to Sarkozy’s election fund five years ago.
►►Analysis: US relations on the agenda for Pakistan’s new spy chief. Yusuf Raza Gilani has appointed Lieutenant General Zahir ul-Islam as the new chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, the main spy arm of the Pakistani military, ending weeks of speculation he would extend the term of Lieutenant Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, due to retire on March 18. The new spymaster faces a tough task fixing ever-worsening ties with the United States, but analysts say he is unlikely to reform an institution accused of helping militants in Afghanistan.

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News you may have missed #692

Lieutenant-General Zahir ul-IslamBy IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
►►Mole theory over MI6 codebreaker’s death. It is one of Britain’s most baffling spy mysteries. In 2010, the body of expert code breaker Gareth Williams was found locked in a large sports bag in the bathtub of his London flat. There were no obvious signs of how he died or who was responsible —with many claiming a “wall of silence” surrounding his death points to a cover-up at the very heart of the British establishment. And now it has been revealed Gareth may have been betrayed by a British double agent.
►►Pakistan picks new director for spy agency. The prime minister of Pakistan appointed a new general to run the country’s most powerful intelligence agency on Friday, signaling an important change in the military leadership at a pivotal moment in relations with the United States. Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam will take over as the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, on March 18, replacing Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who has held the post since 2008.
►►Russian diplomat alleges 15,000 foreign fighters in Syria. Addressing a one-day humanitarian forum on Syria at the United Nations in Geneva, Russia’s deputy ambassador Mikhail Lebedev said rebels had recently committed large-scale attacks against Syrian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. Asked by Reuters how many foreign fighters were believed to be in Syria, he said: “how many got in through illegal routes? The border there is not demarcated, not delimited, so nobody knows. But at least 15,000″.

News you may have missed #559

Manuel Noriega

Manuel Noriega

►►Why did Pakistani spy chief secretly visit China? Reports reveal Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan’s main military intelligence agency, the ISI, flew on a secret mission to Beijing for urgent talks this Monday. China’s ties with Pakistan have traditionally been tense, and have become worse in recent years, because China accuses Pakistan of harboring secessionist Chinese Muslim militants. Some observers suggest that Pasha’s trip may have been more of a summons than a visit.
►►France to extradite Manuel Noriega to Panama. France has confirmed it will extradite Manuel Noriega to Panama, where he is wanted over human rights violations during his rule in the 1980s. The former Panamanian military leader is currently serving a prison sentence in France for money laundering. Speaking during his trial in Paris last year, the former US ally claimed that millions of dollars he deposited in several French bank accounts were CIA payments for his services, not income from illicit drug sales.
►►US intel budget drops by $500 million. More than $500 million would be cut from US intelligence agencies under a bill authorizing programs and spending for spying operations next year, Read more of this post

Pakistan removed spy from US at CIA’s request

ISI HQ

ISI HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Pakistani intelligence officer was quietly removed from the United States last April, after the director of the CIA complained about him to his Pakistani counterpart. According to The New York Times, which aired the revelation last weekend, the then Director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, had “a tense conversation” with Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), which led to the removal “within days” of the ISI officer. The officer in question is Mohammed Tasleem, whose diplomatic cover was that of attaché in the Pakistani Consulate in New York, but whose actual task was monitoring the political activities of the sizeable Pakistani diaspora in the United States. According to the FBI, which briefed the CIA about Tasleem earlier this year, his intelligence activities centered on pressuring politically active Pakistanis in the United States to refrain from speaking publicly on ‘controversial issues’. FBI counterintelligence reports claim that, on at least one occasion, Tasleem posed as an FBI agent, in order to extract intelligence from a member of the Pakistani community in the United States. The Times spoke to members of Pakistan’s ex-pat community who allege that the ISI systematically approaches Pakistanis speaking openly about ‘national issues’, such as the indigenous insurgency in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, the disputed Indian region of Kashmir, or Pakistan’s appalling human rights record. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #545

Robert Baer

Robert Baer

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Pakistan restores visas to CIA personnel. The government of Pakistan has reissued entry visas to nearly 90 CIA officers, which were withdrawn following the assassination of Osama bin Laden last May. Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reports that the visas were approved hours after ISI director Ahmed Shuja Pasha’s visit to the United States last week. It is interesting to note the speed of official authorization of the visas in Pakistan –a country where even basic government services routinely fall victim to endless bureaucratic delays. Does this mean that the ISI and the CIA are back in business? If Pakistani media reports are to be believed, the two agencies were back in business as early as last May. ►►German spy agency accused of playing down stolen blueprints. New reports in the German media say that the stolen blueprints of Germany’s intelligence agency BND may contain even more sensitive security information than previously believed. German newsmagazine Focus alleged earlier this month that the top-secret architectural plans for the BND’s state-of-the-art new building “mysteriously disappeared” a year ago, without anyone in government noticing their absence. Ernst Uhrlau, BND’s Director, responded by claiming that only the building’s car park, cafeteria and energy supply areas had been affected by the theft. But according to Focus and Der Spiegel, Germany’s other major newsmagazine, the stolen documents contain classified plans for the headquarters’ main building. There are now rumors in Berlin that the scandal may force Uhrlau to resign. ►►Ex-CIA operative says he never claimed Israel would attack Iran. Recently we reported on former CIA officer Robert Baer’s warning that Israel was planning an armed attack against Iran. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #539

Milt Bearden

Milt Bearden

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Former CIA officer urges US-Pakistan reconciliation. During the 1980s, CIA officer Milt Bearden managed the CIA’s covert assistance to the Mujahedeen, who were fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan. This means Bearden was dealing with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) on an almost daily basis. He has now written an article for Foreign Policy journal, in which he advises CIA and ISI officials to “cut through the shrillness, the schoolyard taunts that characterize [...] the current feud between their services; decide on what is worth fixing; agree on important common goals; and get to work”. He also reminds policymakers in Washington that America’s “influence in the Indian Ocean is slipping as China and India flex their growing economic muscle”, and that the US needs Pakistan’s assistance to remain relevant in that part of the world. ►►Pakistan spy director comes to US following aid cut. Meanwhile, Washington’s decision to withhold nearly a billion dollars in annual military aid to Pakistan has shaken up Islamabad. The Associated Press reports that high-level US-Pakistan meetings are quickly “unfolding”. One such meeting involves ISI’s fiery Director, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who just made an emergency visit to Washington, reportedly “for talks”. Pakistani officials insist, however, that “the trip was planned for some time”. Sure. In case you are wondering, Pasha’s visit went “very well“, according to both US and Pakistani officials. ►►Secret CIA site in Somalia revealed. While most intelligence observers are concerned with the latest US-Pakistan spat, Jeremy Scahill, one of America’s most tireless investigative reporters, has revealed that the CIA maintains a large secret site in Somalia. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #520

  • CIA director returns from Pakistan empty-handed. CIA Director Leon Panetta’s surprise visit to Pakistan last week yielded little, according to US officials. Panetta bypassed the protocol of first meeting with the president and prime minister, and instead met with Pakistan’s military and intelligence directors.
  • Chinese spying devices found in Hong Kong cars. A Hong Kong newspaper has alleged that the Chinese authorities have been secretly installing spy devices on all dual-plate Chinese-Hong Kong vehicles since July of 2007. Photographic evidence is here.
  • NSA releases over 50000 pages of documents. The US National Security Agency has announced that it has declassified and released to the US National Archives and Records Administration over 50,000 pages of historic records, covering a time-frame from before World War I through the 1960s.

News you may have missed #513 (Pakistan edition)

  • Pakistan spy chief tells US to end drone strikes. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the outgoing director of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has reportedly told CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell that Pakistan “will be forced to respond” if the US does not stop its drone strikes in the country.
  • CIA-ISI back in business. Overall, however, the meeting between Pasha and Morell was focused on mending CIA-ISI relations, according to Pakistan’s leading newspaper The Nation.
  • Leaked cables reveal joint US-Pakistan missions. US Special Forces were embedded with Pakistani troops on intelligence-gathering missions by 2009, confidential American diplomatic cables showed, a revelation that could hurt the Pakistani military’s public image. The Pakistani government has denied the reports.

News you may have missed #462

  • CIA secrets could surface in Swiss nuclear case. A seven-year effort by the CIA to hide its relationship with the Tinners, a Swiss family who once acted as moles inside the world’s most successful atomic black market, hit a turning point on Thursday when a Swiss magistrate recommended charging the men with trafficking in technology and information for making nuclear arms.
  • Pakistan spy chief to ignore US summons. The Pakistani government has announced that hat there is “no possibility” that Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the head of Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, would obey a summons requesting his appearance before a court in the United States relating to the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
  • Australia told to prioritize spy recruitment. Carl Ungerer, from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, has advised the Australian intelligence agencies to “look at ways to improve information gathering from human sources”, as they undergo a period of reform.

News you may have missed #406

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News you may have missed #306

  • Sweden jails Chinese man for spying on Uighurs. Sweden has jailed Babur Maihesuti, a.k.a. Babur Mehsut, a dual Chinese-Swedish national who was caught monitoring the political activities of Sweden’s Uighur community on behalf of Beijing. The latter has denied any connection with the alleged spy.
  • Pakistan follows US directive on ISI chief. The director of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, will remain in his post for another year, the Pakistani government has announced. Even though Pasha had a row with CIA director Leon Panetta last November, the US pressured Pakistan to keep him, as the White House has “come to believe that keeping Pasha in place will facilitate efforts to flush out Taliban safe havens from Pakistan”.
  • Dubai tells spies to…leave. Laughable publicity stunt by Dubai Police, who have asked all spies “currently present in the Gulf” to leave the region within a week. “If not, then we will cross that bridge when we come to it”, warned Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan.

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Comment: US-Pakistani Spy Relations Just Short of Open War

ISI HQ

ISI HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS* | intelNews.org |
Officially, the United States and Pakistan are allies in the so-called “war on terrorism”. But diplomats and intelligence agents on the ground tell a very different story. For several months now, Washington and Islamabad have engaged in a low-intensity intelligence war, with the Pakistanis accusing the Americans of failing to share actionable intelligence, and the Americans blaming Pakistani security services for maintaining clandestine links with Taliban groups. On at least one occasion, a senior advisor to the US-backed Afghan leadership has claimed that Pakistani intelligence services provide assistance to suicide bombers willing to strike targets in Kabul and other cities and towns in Afghanistan.

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CIA chief has ‘confrontational’ meeting with Pakistani spymaster

Ahmed Shuja Pasha

A.S. Pasha

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
There is almost no coverage in the US media of CIA director Leon Panetta’s trip to Pakistan —in sharp contrast to the Pakistani and Indian press, where his visit made national headlines over the weekend. A scheduled meeting with Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was undoubtedly among Panetta’s most important engagements in Islamabad. According to Pakistani media accounts, the meeting between the two men —the second in less than two months— was confrontational and marred by serious differences between the ISI and the CIA —two agencies that rarely see eye-to-eye lately. Citing “well-placed sources”, Pakistani daily The Nation said that the ISI spymaster “expressed his disappointment” to Panetta about the CIA’s “dismal role in countering terrorism” in Pakistan and its “failure to provide concrete actionable information” to the Pakistani secret services. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0127

  • Is China using Nepal as a base to spy on India? India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has accused Beijing of using the so-called Nepal-China study centers in Nepal to spy on India. The centers, which are located all along the Indo-Nepal border, are being used to clandestinely gather information on Indian activities, says RAW. It also rumored that RAW is monitoring around 30 Chinese firms which have set up base in Nepal and may be involved in spying on India.
  • Italian lawyers seek jail for CIA agents. Public prosecutors in Italy have urged a court in Milan to jail 26 Americans for the kidnapping of a terrorism suspect in a 2003 CIA operation on Italian soil. They also want a 13 year prison sentence for the former head of Italy’s secret service, Nicolo Pollari. Last week the US government moved for the first time to officially prevent Italian authorities from prosecuting American citizens involved in the CIA operation.
  • CIA director meets Pakistani spy chief. The director of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Ahmed Shuja Pasha, has met with CIA director Leon Panetta in Washington. Last week, Lieutenant General Pasha yelled at a US journalist for daring to utter the CIA’s allegations that the ISI is withholding crucial intelligence information on al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

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Pakistani spies “visibly angry” at US charge of Taliban links

A.S. Pasha

A.S. Pasha

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Recently, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s secretive spy service, gave Washington Post’s associate editor, David Ignatius, a rare look inside its Islamabad headquarters. However, the first known visit to the ISI by a Western journalist in recent years failed to impress the Pakistanis. The latter became “visibly angry” when Ignatius asked them whether they are withholding information about al-Qaeda and the Taliban, as the CIA and other US intelligence agencies claim. The charges, which are disputed by Pakistani officials, led to “a long and animated conversation” with ISI Director, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who forbade the US journalist from quoting him directly. Read more of this post

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