News you may have missed #714

Tjostolv Moland and Joshua FrenchBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►British PM urged to intervene in Congo spy case. The mother of Joshua French, who has dual British and Norwegian nationality, and is facing execution in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has urged British Prime Minister David Cameron to ask Congolese authorities to pardon him. French, and his Norwegian friend Tjostolv Moland, were sentenced to death for murder and spying in the vast central African country in 2009. A prison official claimed in August last year that the pair had tried to escape, but their lawyer denies this.
►►Computers of Syrian activists infected with Trojan. Since the beginning of the year, pro-Syrian-government hackers have steadily escalated the frequency and sophistication of their attacks on Syrian opposition activists. Many of these attacks are carried out through Trojans, which covertly install spying software onto infected computers, as well as phishing attacks which steal YouTube and Facebook login credentials. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the latest surveillance malware comes in the form of an extracting file which is made to look like a PDF if users have their file extensions turned off. The PDF purports to be a document concerning the formation of the leadership council of the Syrian revolution and is delivered via Skype message from a known friend.
►►Report claims Australian government spied on anti-coal activists. The leader of the Australian Greens, Bob Brown, says he is outraged at reports that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is spying on mining protesters, and says such action is a misuse of the spy agency’s resources. The revelations were reported in Australian newspapers yesterday, and are based on a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism that was reportedly rejected because it involved “an intelligence agency document”. The ASIO says it cannot confirm whether it has conducted surveillance of anti-coal protesters, but it says it does not target particular groups or individuals unless there is a security-related reason to do so.

US Special Forces now fighting the LRA in four African countries

Lord's Resistance ArmyBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
American troops fighting one of Africa’s most notorious rebel groups are now officially stationed across four African countries, a move that highlights the expansion of Washington’s military presence in the continent. Last October, the administration of US President Barack Obama announced the deployment of 100 US Special Forces members to Uganda, to fight an insurgency group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Founded in the 1980s, the LRA is widely considered the world’s most brutal Christian terrorist group. Its leader, Joseph Kony, who is wanted along with four of his commanders by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, is seen as a prophet by his followers. Washington had initially said that the Special Forces members would act as “advisors” to the Ugandan government, which has sustained the majority of the LRA’s attacks over the years. But Rear Admiral Brian L. Losey, the US Special Operations’ senior commander for Africa, said on Wednesday that, in addition to Uganda, American forces are currently stationed in military bases in Nzara, South Sudan, Obo, Central African Republic, and Dungu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Speaking to Western reporters on the telephone, Rear Admiral Losey said that counterinsurgency activity directed at the LRA “will increase in frequency” during the spring and summer, and hinted that the Christian rebel group would soon be forced to go on the defensive. It is important to note that this official acknowledgement does not mark the beginning of Washington’s military involvement in activities against the LRA. In 2009, The New York Times revealed that the US Department of Defense assisted in the planning of a major offensive against the LRA. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0207

Bookmark and Share

News you may have missed #0186

  • UN shares intel with Rwandan rebels, says paper. Rwandan daily The New Times has aired allegations that the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) has an intelligence-sharing relationship with Hutu FDLR rebels, which runs “even deeper than earlier thought”.
  • Pakistan militants target spy agency. Militants have stepped up their fight against the Pakistani government in western Pakistan, by ramming a truck bomb into the Peshawar regional office of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s main spy agency. This is the first large-scale specific targeting of intelligence agents in the region, outside of Afghanistan.
  • US bases in Colombia to be used for spying, says Chávez. Venezuela’s President says he does not think that the new US bases will be used for counternarcotics efforts, but rather for “electronic spying”.

Bookmark and Share

News you may have missed #0145

  • Alleged Norwegian spies appeal Congo sentence. Two Norwegian citizens arrested last May in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on spying charges have begun an appeal against their sentence. The DRC has ordered Norway to pay $60 million in reparations for the spying incident, but Oslo says the two men had no ties to the Norwegian government.
  • Mother of Israeli-handled spy sues government. The mother of Muhamad Said Sabr, an Egyptian nuclear engineer convicted in 2007 of spying for Israel, has filed a damage suit against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ambassador to Egypt Shalom Cohen. She claims mental damage as a result of her son’s being recruited by the Mossad.
  • Pakistan defends spy agencies after week of carnage. Pakistan defended its intelligence agencies Tuesday after a bloody week which saw 125 people killed in a wave of attacks blamed on Taliban militants. Interior Minister Rehman Malik alleged the country’s spy services “foiled at least a hundred attacks before they were carried out”. But local media have reported that the threat to army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi was known in advance by police.

Bookmark and Share

Westerners arrested for “spying” in Congo had Kenyan links

Joshua French

Joshua French

The bizarre case of two Norwegian citizens arrested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last May on spying charges is getting ever more complex. Tjostolv Moland, 28, and Joshua French, 27 (photo), were arrested in Kisangani, DRC, after their Congolese driver was found murdered with a bullet wound in his head. Prosecutors also accuse the two Norwegians of trying to kill a murder witness on orders of the Norwegian government, which has denied any connection with the two prisoners. Now, according to an investigation by Norway’s TV2 channel, Moland and French are said to have had a formal contract with the government of Kenya to train a 120-member elite security unit responsible for protecting VIPs in the country. Read more of this post


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,055 other followers