News you may have missed #862

Cyprus, Israel, Syria, LebanonBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
►►Covert CIA program helped Colombia kill rebel leaders. A covert CIA program has helped Colombia’s government kill at least two dozen leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the rebel insurgency also known as FARC, The Washington Post reported Saturday. The National Security Agency has also provided “substantial eavesdropping help” to the Colombian government, according to The Post.
►►Israel asks US not to spy on it. Israeli officials broke their silence over the US surveillance scandal Sunday, angrily demanding an end to Washington’s spying on Israel. Last week more documents leaked by former NSA technical expert Edward Snowden uncovered a partnership between the NSA and British intelligence agency GCHQ from 2008 to 2011 to monitor office email addresses from the then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
►►Germany reacts coolly to French request on Central Africa. Germany reacted coolly last week to a French request that European countries step up support for its military mission in Central African Republic, playing down the likelihood of any financial assistance on the eve of an EU summit. France has deployed 1,600 troops there to prevent worsening violence between Christian militias and largely Muslim Seleka rebels who ousted ex-President Francois Bozize.

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News you may have missed #624

Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout

►►Russia angry at Viktor Bout’s US guilty verdict. Moscow has reacted angrily to the guilty verdict handed down to Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout by a court in the United States. Bout, a former Soviet military intelligence (GRU) officer, was arrested in a sting operation in Bangkok, Thailand, in March of 2008. At the time of his arrest, he and his two collaborators were negotiating a complex weapons deal with two informants posing as representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Latin America’s largest leftist paramilitary group.
►►Symposium examined Reagan’s use of intelligence. The CIA released more than 200 declassified documents it prepared for US President Ronald Reagan during a symposium last week at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The CIA conference, entitled “Ronald Reagan, Intelligence, and the End of the Cold War“, included a discussion by American and Soviet former spies.
►►Suspected Chinese spy loses bid to rejoin Canada civil service. Haiyan Zhang, worked as a senior communications analyst with the Privy Council Office in Ottawa. She was fired when Canada’s spy agency questioned her “loyalty to Canada” over suspicion she was spying for China. Now she has lost her fight to return to the civil service.

Trial of ‘Lord of War’ weapons smuggler underway in New York

Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
He is considered the world’s most notorious weapons smuggler; dubbed ‘the merchant of death’, his life’s story inspired the Hollywood blockbuster Lord of War. But his trial, which is currently underway in New York, has so far gone largely unnoticed by the world’s media. Viktor Bout, a former Soviet military intelligence (GRU) officer, was arrested in a sting operation in Bangkok, Thailand, in March of 2008. At the time of his arrest, he and his two collaborators were negotiating a complex weapons deal with two individuals who said they were representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Latin America’s largest leftist paramilitary group. However, the interested buyers turned out to be informants of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which was employing them as part of a sophisticated sting operation. Bout was arrested by the Thai Royal Police and was imprisoned in Bangkok, before being extradited to the United States last year. He is now being tried in Manhattan for attempting to supply arms to the FARC, including machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and even two airplanes. Earlier this week, the jury heard excerpts from recorded conversations between Bout, his accomplices, and the DEA informants, in which the Russian weapons merchant is heard saying that he and the FARC “have the same enemy” —namely the Americans. Bout voiced this comment in response to a DEA informant’s exclamation that the FARC wanted to use the weapons supplied by Bout “to knock down those American sons of bitches”. The deal was never completed, as it was interrupted by Thai police officers, who stormed into the hotel room and captured a stunned Bout. In another sequence in the recordings, Bout is heard saying that he plans to convince the defense minister of an unidentified country to facilitate the transfer of weapons to the FARC by providing him with official documentation. Read more of this post

‘Lord of War’ weapons smuggler enjoys Russian protection

Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The case of notorious arms smuggler Viktor Bout is well known. Born in Dushanbe, Soviet Tajikistan, in 1967, Bout served in the GRU (Soviet military intelligence) until the collapse of the USSR, at which point he began supplying weapons to shady groups, ranging from Congolese rebels and Angolan paramilitaries to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In March of 2008, Bout, known as ‘Lord of War’, was finally arrested by the Royal Thai Police, after a tip by US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officers. The latter had managed to lure Bout to Thailand by pretending to be Colombian FARC arms procurers. Recently, Washington scored a second victory by convincing Thai authorities to extradite Bout to the United States on terrorism charges. Presumably, Bout will be tried as an arms smuggler acting on his own accord. But is this right? Read more of this post

News you may have missed #401

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US forces helped assassinate top FARC commander in Ecuador

Raúl Reyes

Raúl Reyes

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
US military intelligence and combat troops helped Colombian forces assassinate a senior leftwing Colombian paramilitary commander on Ecuadoran soil last year, according to an Ecuadoran government report. As this blog reported last month, Colombia’s soon-to-be-dismantled DAS intelligence service admitted it paid “an informant in the Ecuadorean security forces” US$2.5 million to supply information on the whereabouts of Raúl Reyes, senior leader in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Reyes was assassinated along with 16 of his guerillas in a daring raid by Colombian forces, around a mile inside Ecuador’s border, on March 1, 2008. Now an Ecuadoran government report claims that Reyes’ killing, which sparked the so-called 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis between Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, was conducted with logistical and combat assistance by US forces stationed in Ecuador. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0179

  • Iran charges three US citizens with espionage. If convicted, the three Americans, who claim they accidentally crossed into Iran while hiking, could be sentenced to death. Meanwhile, relatives of the three have angrily rejected the espionage charges in a joint statement.
  • Findings of spy reform committee ignored in South Africa. South Africa’s statutory bodies that oversee the work of spy agencies are ignoring the warnings of a ministerial-level Review Commission on Intelligence, which last summer warned that a steadily declining culture of accountability in South African spy services is threatening the country’s constitutional order. So much for the government’s heralded “major restructuring” of South African security services.
  • Colombia paid Ecuador informant to infiltrate FARC. The informant that Colombia was said last week to have handled in Ecuador (see previous intelNews coverage) was reportedly paid around US$2.5 million by the Colombian government to supply information on the whereabouts of Raul Reyes, former leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The informant, allegedly known in Colombian intelligence files as “JCRF” or “Pirata”, managed to infiltrate FARC, and may have been instrumental in Reyes’ killing by the Colombian military in Ecuador last March.

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Documents allegedly describe joint US-Colombian spy operations

Tarek El Aissami

Tarek El Aissami

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A day after announcing the arrest of a number of Colombian intelligence agents on Venezuelan soil, Venezuelan officials presented what they described as “irrefutable evidence” of joint US-Colombian spy operations. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Venezuela’s interior minister Tarek El Aissami, said documents acquired in connection with the capture of the Colombian intelligence agents, show that their actions were part of “an ambitious CIA-funded operation”. Venezuelan security forces detained the two Colombians, Angel Jacinto Guanare and Eduardo Gonzalez Muñoz, along with an alleged Venezuelan accomplice, Melvin Argenis Gutierrez, on October 2, 2009, in the city of Maracay, 50 miles west of Venezuelan capital Caracas. El Aissami suggested that documents relating to the activities of the three men reveal that they were part of Operation FALCON, a joint project by the CIA and Colombian intelligence agency DAS, which aimed “to collect information about the Bolivarian National Armed Forces” and recruit informants from anti-government circles. Read more of this post

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