News you may have missed #817 (assassinations edition)

Patrick FinucaneBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►British PM apologizes in killing of IRA lawyer. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, has apologized after a government report found that British intelligence officials had colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in the 1989 killing of lawyer Patrick Finucane in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Finucane, who had represented members of the Irish Republic Army in court, was shot dead by two gunmen from a Protestant paramilitary group while having a Sunday dinner at his home with his wife and three children.
►►Behind the plot to kill Afghanistan’s spy chief. On December 11, we reported that the Afghan government accused Pakistani intelligence of having played a role in the assassination of Assadullah Khaled, who heads Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security. But how was the attempt on Khaled’s life carried out, and how did the aspiring assassins get so close to the controversial intelligence chief? Time magazine reports that it was Khaled’s self-confidence “bordering on recklessness” that almost got him killed. Sources say that, even after taking over the NDS, Khalid frequently drove around without bodyguards.
►►How Mossad bid to kill Hamas leader ended in fiasco. Khaled Mashal’s recent presence in the Gaza Strip will have rudely reminded Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, of one of the greatest fiascos in the history of special operations, writes The Daily Telegraph‘s David Blair. Fifteen years ago, Netanyahu authorized a risky attempt to assassinate Mashal in the Jordanian capital, Amman. Everything went wrong. The Jordanian security forces responded to this brazen daylight attack, arresting two of the Israeli operatives and forcing three to hide in their country’s embassy, which was promptly surrounded by troops.

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Jordan claims arrest of seven-member Syrian spy cell in Amman

Jordan and its surrounding regionBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Security services in the Kingdom of Jordan announced on Tuesday the detention of seven Syrian nationals who were allegedly caught with sophisticated communications devices in their possession. The announcement was made in a laconic press release issued early yesterday evening by Jordan’s Public Security Directorate (PSD), which is the Kingdom’s counterintelligence agency operating under the Ministry of the Interior. The press release said a Syrian national had been arrested in Jordanian capital Amman following “intelligence tips”. Following his detention, the man allegedly told his interrogators that he was a member of a larger Syrian spy cell active in and around Amman. On Monday, PSD forces conducted simultaneous raids across Amman and the nearby city of irbid (50 miles north of the capital), and arrested another six Syrians. According to the PSD, the detainees were found to be in possession of 35 “advanced communications devices” that are “banned in the Kingdom of Jordan”. Sources tell intelNews that the devices are portable two-way radio transceivers, which appear to be satellite-enabled and to have encryption capabilities. In addition to the transceivers, Jordanian counterintelligence allegedly confiscated three laptop computers and a “night vision device”. Special Police Force spokesman Mohammed Khatib told reporters on Tuesday that the seven Syrians were collaborating with Jordanian authorities, but refused to provide specific information on their identities, condition or whereabouts. Read more of this post

Did Jordan help Israeli Mossad abduct Gaza engineer?

Dirar Abu Sissi

Dirar Abu Sissi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
This blog has covered the case of Dirar Abu Sissi, a Jordanian-born engineer in the Gaza strip who was abducted in the Ukraine by Israeli spy agency Mossad on February 19. Sissi had traveled to Ukraine, birthplace of his wife, to apply for citizenship in the Eastern European country. But he disappeared in the early hours of February 19, shortly after boarding a train from Kharkiv to Kiev, in order to reunite with this brother, a Dutch national, whom he had not seen since 1997. His disappearance remained a mystery until the United Nations High Commission for Refugees told the Associated Press that Sissi had been kidnapped by Israeli operatives and had been secretly transported to a prison in Israel. His whereabouts were later confirmed in a report by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. But some observers now suspect that the Israelis did not act alone during the abduction operation. Dirar’s brother, Yousef Abu Sissi, has spoken to American journalist Richard Silverstein about his brother’s trip from the Gaza Strip to Ukraine, prior to his abduction. He told Silverstein that Dirar’s trip involved an initial flight from Egypt to Jordan. It was there, according to Dirar’s brother, that the Gaza resident was detained by Jordanian intelligence. The latter confiscated his passport, refused to allow him to board his flight to Ukraine, and held him at the airport through the night. Read more of this post

Blasts target Iranian nuclear scientists, killing one [updated]

Shahriari's car

Shahriari's car

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Teams of unknown assailants chose the first day of the WikiLeaks diplomatic revelations to attack two senior Iranian nuclear scientists in capital Tehran, managing to kill one of them. While the world is preoccupied with the WikiLeaks releases of United States diplomatic cables, two teams of motorcyclists, each consisting of a driver and a backseat rider, targeted the two scientists during the morning rush hour in Tehran, as they were driving to work with their wives in their cars. They attached small bombs to the car windows of their targets and detonated them from a relatively safe distance before speeding away through heavy traffic. The attackers managed to kill Dr. Majid Shahriari, a senior nuclear researcher and prominent professor at the Shahid Beheshti University in the northern suburbs of Tehran, who had taught at the Iranian armed forces’ Supreme National Defense University. Dr. Shahriari’s wife was injured in the attack. A separate bomb attack injured Dr. Fereydoon Abbasi Davan, who also teaches at Shahid Beheshti, and is described in Iranian media reports as “one of a handful of [Iranian] experts who are able to isolate isotopes” for the purpose of manufacturing uranium required for both nuclear energy and weapons. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0257 (assassinations edition)

  • Who tried to kill the Israeli diplomats in Jordan? “Whoever placed the bomb targeting the two armored embassy vehicles on their way from Jordan to the Allenby Bridge, last Thursday, appears to have had very good intelligence. They knew that many Israeli diplomats, who normally live in Amman without their families, usually depart for Israel for the weekend on Thursday afternoon, and they knew how to identify the two-car convoy”.
  • Iran insists in Israeli link to Mohammadi assassination. Last week’s assassination of Iranian scientist Massoud Ali-Mohammadi was carried out in a “Zionist style”, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said in his first direct comment on the killing.
  • Pakistanis urge US to stop drone attacks. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has renewed calls on the US to stop its CIA-operated targeted assassinations, using unmanned Predator drone attacks on Pakistani soil, as they “kill civilians and ruin its efforts to isolate militants sheltering with tribes in the border region”.

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More on Iranian physicist’s assassination

Blast site

Blast site

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
American intelligence and State Department officials, some anonymous, have denied any connection with the assassination yesterday of Iranian physicist Masoud Ali-Mohammadi, in Tehran. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that Ali-Mohammadi was among several Iranian researchers who had regular contacts with Israeli and Arab physicists, through a United Nations-sponsored scientific collaboration project based in Amman, Jordan. The program, known as Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME), was focused on non-nuclear physics applications in the medical industry and nanotechnology. To further complicate the issue, the Iranian opposition issued a report late last night saying that photographs taken at the scene of the bombing shortly after the blast, reveal the presence at the site of Abu Nasser Hossein, assistant to Manif Ashmar, who is Hezbollah’s public face in Iran. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0246 (CIA bombing edition)

  • Analysis: Strike on CIA base tests US assessment of al-Qaeda. The militant group appears to have achieved a new level of sophistication and may not be as weakened as US officials had thought.
  • Photo of CIA suicide bomber published. Qatar-based Arabic news network Al Jazeera has published a photograph of Jordanian doctor Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 36, who last month killed at least 7 CIA agents in Khost, Afghanistan.
  • Al-Qaida CIA bomber was furious over Gaza war. Suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi was furious over Israel’s Gaza offensive, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on Thursday, citing the man’s sister.
  • Analysis: The view from Jordan on CIA’s deaths in Khost. For Jordan, far more embarrassing than its role in the Khost suicide bombing, is its connection with the CIA, which while relatively well-known before, has now been put out in the public sphere for all to see –especially the Arab street.
  • London Arabic newspaper visits home of CIA bomber. The Jordanian authorities have imposed a security cordon around al-Balawi’s family home, which is located in the residential al-Nuzha district, close to the Jabal al-Hussein Palestinian refugee camp in the Jordanian capital of Amman. But a London-based Arabic-language newspaper correspondent managed to visit the location and speak with the bomber’s family members and neighbors.

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