Who leaked Iranian nuclear document that turned out to be a hoax?

The leaked documentBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On November 27, the Associated Press published an alleged Iranian document which it said proved Iran was working on a nuclear bomb. The news agency said the disclosure was the latest in a series of similar leaks to the media by “officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program”. However, the authenticity of the document, which contained a diagram calculating the explosive force of a nuclear weapon, is now heavily disputed. An analysis of the leaked document in the latest issue of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists concluded that it was either massively erroneous or a hoax designed by amateurs. The Bulletin, a specialist publication founded by physicists involved in the Manhattan Project, said the document was “unlikely to have been made by research scientists working at a national level”. The obvious question is who leaked the disputed document and why? An article in British newspaper The Guardian cites unnamed “Western officials” who claim that the diagram, along with several previous disclosures of a similar nature, was leaked by Israel “in an attempt to raise international pressure on Tehran”. If this is so, the leak appears to have seriously backfired and may have compromised the credibility of an ongoing investigation into the Iranian nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This is because the leaked document was part of an intelligence file on Iran’s nuclear program, compiled by the IAEA, which formed the factual basis for a new set of penalties and sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States and the European Union in November of 2011. The question that some United Nations officials are now asking is, if the leaked document is indeed a hoax, how could the IAEA guarantee the authenticity of the remaining documents on its file on Iran? Read more of this post

About these ads

Analysis: Biometric passports, iris scanners, worry undercover spooks

Biometric passportBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
False passports are to intelligence operatives what petrol is to automobiles. In the absence of forged travel documentation, intelligence officers working undercover are unable to operate internationally without revealing their identity. This is why, traditionally, intelligence operatives are known to “use and discard false passports like hand wipes”, in the words of one knowledgeable source. But according to a fascinating article by veteran intelligence correspondent Jeff Stein, authored for Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog, “the day of the trench-coated spy easily slipping in and out of countries on false papers multiple times [may be] coming to an end”. The reason is “the electronic curtain [that] is descending all over the world”, most notably the increasing deployment of iris recognition devices and biometric passports at airports and hotels around the world, says Stein. Over the coming decade, iris scanners, which employ mathematical pattern-recognition techniques to identify individuals by their irides, will become increasingly common at international airports. The same applies to biometric passports, namely travel documents with embedded microchips that store a massive amount of personal information. These technologies are ostensibly being introduced in international transport hubs in order to combat transnational terrorism and organized crime. But they are also expected to heavily interfere with the work of undercover intelligence operatives, says Stein, especially as they are being introduced in popular spy routes, in countries such as India, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, as well as in several European Union entry points. He quotes an unnamed “career spook” currently working for the Central Intelligence Agency as a consultant, who explains that an undercover officer’s biometric identity will be forever linked to the passport that he or she first uses to enter these countries. If the officer were to try to enter these countries again, using a different alias, alarm bells will ring: “you can’t show up again under a different name with the same data”, says the CIA consultant. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #680

General Ziauddin KhawajaBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Did Pakistani ex-leader know bin Laden’s hideout? General Ziauddin Khawaja, who was head of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) from 1997 to 1999, claims Pakistan’s former President, Pervez Musharraf, knew bin Laden was in Abbottabad.
►►Sweden expels Rwanda diplomat for spying. Sweden has expelled a Rwandan diplomat for allegedly spying on Rwandan exiles there, according to the Associated Press. The diplomat, Evode Mudaheranwa, was sent back to Rwanda last week, according to a sources close to the Swedish government. Mudaheranwa was the Rwandan embassy’s second-highest-ranking official. The Swedish action comes as amid charges that Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s government sends agents overseas to silence critics.
►►Mossad continues to use foreign passports. Agents of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency are still using foreign passports to conduct undercover operations in other countries, according to a report in The Sunday Times of London. The paper says that new evidence shows that foreign nationals residing in Israel are willingly allowing the Mossad to use their passports. The Times interviewed several Israelis who revealed details of how they were approached by intelligence officials about the possibility of volunteering their passports for the Mossad.

Bush “did nothing” about Mossad using US passports to recruit terrorists

Jundallah ForcesBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Current and former American intelligence officials have accused Israeli spy operatives of posing as US citizens to recruit members of a Pakistani terrorist group in a covert war against Iran. In an explosive exposé, the respectable US-based journal Foreign Policy has revealed that officers of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency used forged US passports to pose as American personnel of the Central Intelligence Agency. They used their fake American identities to contact members of Pakistan-based terrorist group Jundallah, which is responsible for numerous brutal strikes against civilian targets in Iran. Jundallah (soldiers of God) is an extremist militant organization that claims to be fighting for the rights of Sunni Muslims in Iran. Most of its members belong to the Baluch ethnic group, which is concentrated along the Iranian-Pakistani border. The Foreign Policy article cites interviews conducted over the past 18 months with six anonymous US government officials, including two serving intelligence officers and at least two others who “have monitored Israeli intelligence operations from senior positions inside the US government”. They told the journal that, in 2007, during the concluding years of the administration of President George W. Bush, the CIA discovered that the Mossad was using forged US passports and US currency to court and fund Jundallah operatives, in a series of secret meetings in London, England. One US government source told Foreign Policy that American officials “were stunned by the brazenness” of the Mossad, saying: “it’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with [...]. They apparently didn’t give a damn what we thought”. A retired CIA officer told the journal that Agency analysts drafted official memoranda that made their way “up the US intelligence chain of command”, eventually reaching the White House. The CIA officer added that President Bush “went absolutely ballistic” when briefed on the Mossad operation. Read more of this post

German commandos arrest couple ‘spying for Russia’

Russian and German flags

Russia & Germany

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Members of an elite German commando unit have arrested a man and a woman, on suspicion of having spied for Russia for over two decades. A statement issued by the German prosecutor’s office does not name the couple, nor does it explicitly identify them as Russian spies. It says simply that they are “suspected of having worked in Germany over a long period of time for a foreign intelligence agency”. But an article in Germany’s leading newsmagazine, Der Spiegel, identifies the couple as “Andreas A.” and “Heidrun A.”, and claims that the two have spied for Russian intelligence since at least 1988. The newsmagazine reports that the suspected spies were caught separately in the towns of Balingen and Marburg, located in the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Hesse respectively. It also suggests that the two were apprehended by members of Germany’s GSG-9, the elite counter-terrorism and special operations unit of the German Federal Police, and that the woman was actually caught in the act of listening to a coded radio message. Both were found to be in possession of forged Austrian passports, as well as —apparently fake— birth certificates stating that they were born in Argentina (Andreas) and Peru (Heidrun). Following the Spiegel article, Germany’s Federal Prosecutor confirmed that two people had indeed been arrested on suspicion of espionage activities on behalf of a foreign country. If a Russian connection is established, it will be the first international espionage case linking Russia and Germany since the latter’s reunification in 1990. If they are followed by convictions, the arrests could constitute a much needed success story for the German intelligence community, whose reputation has lately been damaged by several unsavory media stories. Read more of this post

Canada memos decry use of Canadian passports by Russian spies

Canadian passport

Canadian passport

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In June of 2010 media headlines were dominated by news of a Russian spy ring in the United States that was busted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. On June 27, eleven people, all sleeper agents of the SVR, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, were arrested in early morning raids across several US states. The arrestees, who included media sensation Anna Chapman, were later exchanged for four alleged CIA agents serving time in Russian jails. What is less known however, is the fact that four of the members of the busted spy ring were claiming to be Canadian citizens. SVR operative Natalia Pereverzeva was caught using a forged Canadian passport under the fake name ‘Patricia Mills’. Two other SVR officers, Andrei Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, were claiming Canadian nationality under the forged names Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley. A fourth alleged member of the spy ring, ‘Christopher Metsos’, was apprehended in Cyprus, after using a forged Canadian passport to enter the Mediterranean island. He later disappeared, having skipped bail. Now, sixteen months after the arrests of the Russian spies, The Canadian Press has acquired several hundred pages of memoranda and internal emails from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). Substantial portions of the documents, which were acquired through Canada’s Access to Information Act, remain censored; but The Press reports that they show that employees of DFAIT’s Passport Canada office held “urgent meetings and high-level briefings” in the days following the FBI arrests, in order to address the revelations concerning SVR’s illegal use of Canadian passports. In the documents, Canadian officials opine that the use by Russian spies of forged Canadian travel documents poses a “troubling threat to the integrity of Canadian [passports] and identity security”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #476

Ex-CIA agent and anti-Castro militant on trial in Texas

Carriles in 1962

Carriles in 1962

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A former CIA agent and militant anticommunist, who is idolized by America’s anti-Castro Cubans, but is considered a terrorist in parts of Latin America, has gone on trial in Texas. Luís Posada Carriles, 82, known as “the bin Laden of the Americas” by his detractors, gained notoriety for his self-confessed participation in a string of bombings of hotels in Havana, Cuba, in 1997. He is wanted by the governments of Cuba and Venezuela for his alleged role in the dramatic 1976 midair bombing of Cubana flight 455, which killed all 73 crew and passengers onboard. The United States government has placed Carriles on trial for lying about his militant activities to US immigration officials, after arriving here in 2005. Specifically, Carriles faces 11 charges of perjury, obstruction and naturalization fraud, which he is said to have committed at a 2007 immigration hearing in El Paso. At that hearing, he allegedly denied under oath his participation in the 1997 Havana bombings, and failed to report being in possession of a fake Guatemalan passport, which he had used to enter the United States two years earlier. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #464 (Mossad edition)

British citizen among Mossad assassins intrigues investigators

Christopher Lockwood

Lockwood

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Only a handful of the 33 members of an Israeli assassination squad, who killed a senior Hamas member in Dubai last January, carried non-fraudulent passports. Most of the assassins, who in all probability worked for Kidon, an elite assassination unit within Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, used forged British, Irish, German, Australian, and other passports. Dubai officials investigating the murder of Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh have identified at least one British citizen among non-fraudulent passport holders in the Mossad assassination team: he is 62-year-old Christopher Lockwood (photo), who helped facilitate al-Mabhouh’s assassination by transporting some of the Mossad members around Dubai “in a [rented] white minivan with tinted windows”. Read more of this post

Ireland not to recall passports following Mossad forgeries

Forged passports

Forged passports

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The government of Ireland has decided against recalling millions of passports issued before 2005, following the discovery of several forged Irish passports used by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. At least seven of the Mossad operatives who took part in last January’s assassination of senior Hamas military official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, used forged Irish passports to enter and exit the United Arab Emirates. An official investigation into the affair by the Irish government uncovered an extensive Israeli document forgery network in Ireland, and led to the expulsion of an Israeli embassy official from the country. But Irish government officials, tired of the long history of forged Irish passports used by intelligence agencies around the world, flirted with the idea of recalling all Irish passports issued before 2005, when sophisticated security features were introduced. Read more of this post

Germany lets captured Mossad spy suspect return to Israel

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Al-Mabhouh

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
German authorities have allowed an Israeli intelligence operative suspected of links to an assassination of a Palestinian official to return to Israel, despite outstanding passport forgery charges against him. The operative, whose travel documents identify him as Uri Brodsky, was arrested upon arriving in Poland on June 4, 2010. An Interpol arrest warrant for Brodsky had been previously issued by German prosecutors, who accuse Brodsky of  helping procure a forged German passport for use by a member of an assassination squad operating under Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The user of the forged passport is believed to have used the travel document to enter Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in mid-January of this year, where he participated in the killing of Palestinian Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas weapons procurer, who was found dead in his luxury Dubai hotel room on January 20. Polish authorities decided to extradite Brodsky to Germany despite intense diplomatic pressure from Israel, who pressed Warsaw and Berlin to allow the operative to return home to Israel without facing charges. But intelligence observers, who were initially impressed with Poland and Germany’s strong stance on the issue, soon realized that Brodsky’s extradition was part of a Polish-German-Israeli deal, under which Brodsky would avoid jail sentence and get away with a minor fine for forging an official German travel document. This is precisely what happened. Read more of this post

Mossad operative to avoid jail in extradition deal

Uri Brodsky

"Uri Brodsky"

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
An operative of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, who was arrested in Poland on charges of forging a German passport, will avoid prison time for the offense, under a suspected Polish-German-Israeli secret deal. The man, whose travel documents identify him as Uri Brodsky, was arrested upon arriving in Poland on June 4. He is wanted by German prosecutors for procuring a forged German passport for use by a member of a Mossad hit squad, who used it to enter Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in mid-January of this year. The user of the forged passport is thought to have participated in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas weapons procurer, who was found dead in his luxury Dubai hotel room on January 20.  German prosecutors believe that Brodsky, who worked in Germany under the name of Alexander Werin, assisted numerous Mossad operatives acquire forged identity papers of several European countries, including Estonia, Latvia, Austria and Switzerland. Read more of this post

Swapped spy says he is not Russian, wants to move to Peru

Mikhail Vasenkov

Mikhail Vasenkov

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
One of the 11 Russian spies arrested in the US in June, and later swapped with CIA assets held in Russian prisons, claims he is not Russian, speaks no Russian, and wants to move to Peru, where he lived in the 1970s. Juan Lazaro was arrested by the FBI on June 27, along with 9 other (and later one more) Russian deep-cover operatives, who had lived in the United States under false identities for up to three decades. Lazaro, who lived in Yonkers, New York, had a doctorate in Political Science, worked as an adjunct professor, and was married to Peruvian-born journalist Vicky Pelaez. But FBI investigators unmasked Lazaro’s real name, which is Mikhail Vasenkov, before deporting him and his wife, who is also accused of working for the Russian secret services, to Moscow. According to FBI records, Vasenkov assumed the Juan Lazaro identity and ‘legend’ (biographical narrative and supporting documentation for intelligence purposes) while living in Latin America in the 1970s, using the papers of the real Juan Lazaro, an Uruguayan child who died at age 3. But now Vasenkov’s American lawyer, Genesis Peduto, claims her client is not from Russia, speaks no Russian, but is in fact the real Juan Lazaro, and wishes to leave Russia for Peru. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #408

  • Russian military spy supervised Czech prisons. Robert Rakhardzho, a Russian spy whose relationship with a Czech female Army major prompted the resignation of three senior Czech military officials, worked as a psychologist at the Czech Prison Service headquarters until last September. Rakhardzho is now hiding in Russia.
  • US undercover feds able to easily obtain fraudulent passports. Gregory Kutz, an investigator for the US Government Accountability Office, testified last week to a Senate panel about how his team of undercover Federal agents was able to get the State Department to issue five of the seven e-Passports it requested using fraudulent information. The government apparently failed to detect such basic red flags as a fake driver’s license.
  • Russia widens powers of KGB successor agency. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has signed a law widening (again) the powers of the Federal Security Service, the KGB’s main successor agency. The new law allows the FSB to issue warnings to people suspected of preparing to commit “crimes against Russia’s security”. Perpetrators face fines or up to 15 days detention.

Bookmark and Share

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 710 other followers