Analysis: How does Israel recruit Palestinian informants in Gaza?

Erez border crossingBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
According to human-rights organizations, the Palestinian group Hamas has executed over 50 alleged Israeli informants in the Gaza Strip. Nearly two dozen Gaza residents were accused of collaborating with Israel and summarily shot in the weeks following the recent war between Israel and Hamas. There are serious concerns over the absence of appropriate legal processes in these executions. The issue of legal standards aside, however, there is little question that Israeli intelligence agencies have for decades relied on Palestinian informants to gather information on Arab communities in Israel and the Occupied Territories. These individuals provide the Israeli intelligence establishment with human intelligence or plant technical surveillance equipment as instructed by their handlers. But how do Israeli intelligence agencies, including the Mossad and Shin Bet, recruit Palestinian informants in difficult-to-penetrate places such as the Gaza Strip?

Palestinians who have been personally wronged by Hamas, or who oppose the militant group’s seven-year rule in the Gaza Strip, constitute low-hanging fruit for Israeli recruiters. Other informants, such as petty-thieves and other small-time criminals, are recruited through traditional intelligence techniques that include entrapment or blackmail. But it would be reasonable to assume that most recruits are lured by direct cash payments. Unemployment in the Gaza Strip is currently estimated at 40 percent, which makes offers of cash extremely enticing for a significant segment of the Gazan population. One officer in the Shin Bet —Israel’s domestic intelligence agency— said recently in respect to the recruitment of informants that “everything starts and ends with money”.

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News you may have missed #857 (hacking edition)

Mossad sealBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
►►UK spies hacked Belgian phone company using fake LinkedIn page. British spies hacked into the routers and networks of a Belgian telecommunications company Belgacom by tricking its telecom engineers into clicking on malicious LinkedIn and Slashdot pages, according to documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The primary aim, reports the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which obtained the documents, was to compromise the GRX router system that BICS controlled, in order to intercept mobile phone traffic that got transmitted by the router.
►►Indonesian hackers behind attack on Australian spy service website. Indonesian hackers are believed to have brought down the website of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, Australia’s leading spy agency. The page was not working on Monday afternoon after hackers launched a “denial of service” attack. A “404 not found” message typically appears when a website crashes under a “denial of service” attack. The cyber attack is reportedly a response to revelations that Australia had been spying on its closest neighbor through its Jakarta embassy.
►►Hamas blasts alleged Mossad website. Hamas officials released a warning about a website called Holol (“solutions”), claiming it is a ruse set up by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency to recruit Gazans as informants. The website’s “Employment” page states, “due to our connections with the Israeli Civil Administration, we can help you bypass the bureaucratic tape and procedural processes which prevent you from leaving Gaza”. The site also offers Israeli medical assistance, “due to connections with the Ministry of Health and the Israeli Civil Administration”. Palestinians interested in contacting the website’s officials are asked to provide their full name, telephone number, email, topic of inquiry, and an explanation of why they are asking for help. Last month, Lebanese group Hezbollah accused the Mossad of being behind a website seeking information on Hezbollah’s intelligence wing.

Spy agencies failed to share intelligence on Omagh bombing: report

Real IRA paradeBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A new report on the 1998 bombing of downtown Omagh by an Irish republican splinter group claims that the tragedy could have been avoided had British, Irish and American intelligence agencies shared information with British police. The car bomb attack was carried out on August 15, 1998, by the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA). The militant organization consisted of former Provisional Irish Republican Army volunteers who rejected the Good Friday Agreement, part of the Northern Ireland peace process. It devastated the small Northern Irish town of Omagh, killing 29 and injuring over 200 people, including six children, several teenagers and a woman who was pregnant with twins. There have been no criminal convictions in connection with the bombing, despite the fact that it was the single worst instance of violence in the so-called Northern Ireland Troubles, which began in the 1960s and ended in 1998, largely because of the Omagh bombing. But now a new report commissioned by the families of the victims of the bombing claims that intelligence services from three countries failed to share information with British police, which could have prevented the disaster in Omagh. The report, authored by a group of retired security experts on behalf of London-based law firm SBP, says the RIRA had been infiltrated by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Britain’s Security Service (MI5) and the Irish Garda’s Crime and Security Branch. These agencies, claims the report, had at least two informants inside the RIRA: a smalltime Irish criminal named Paddy Dixon, who frequently smuggled stolen cars from Ireland into Britain for use by the RIRA, and David Rupert, an American of Irish descent. Read more of this post

MI5 wants secret court session over IRA informant’s lawsuit

Martin McGartlandBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, has requested a secret court hearing to deliberate a lawsuit from a high-profile spy who infiltrated the Provisional Irish Republican Army, commonly known as IRA. The mole, Martin McGartland, of Belfast, Northern Ireland, was recruited by the Special Branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the 1980s. The information he supplied to the security agencies over several years is widely credited with having saved the lives of at least 50 British police officers and soldiers. His autobiographical experiences formed the basis of the 2008 motion picture 50 Dead Men Walking, written and directed by Kari Skogland and starring Jim Sturgess as Martin and Ben Kingsley. McGartland’s cover was dramatically blown in 1991, when the IRA began suspecting that he might be an MI5 mole. After several hours of interrogation by the IRA’s Internal Security Unit, McGartland managed to escape his captors and throw himself out of a third-floor window. He survived serious injuries and was taken into hiding by MI5, living in a series of safe houses across Britain for nearly a decade. However, in 1999 the IRA caught up with him at an MI5 safe house in North Tyneside, in the northeast of England, where he was shot by an IRA hit team while walking to his car one morning and left for dead. McGartland is now suing MI5 and its institutional patron, the British Home Office, claiming that they failed to support him after he was shot by the IRA. In his lawsuit, McGartland claims that government funding he was receiving for treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder was withdrawn after he publicly criticized the British government’s counterterrorism policies. Read more of this post

Will former US government informant face terror charges in India?

David HeadleyBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A former United States government informant, who helped an Islamist militant group plan the 2008 Mumbai attacks in India, has been sentenced to 35 years in prison. David Coleman Headley, a former US Drug Enforcement Administration informant, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2009 for helping to plot an attack by Islamist radicals on a Danish newspaper. It eventually became apparent that Headley had been a member of Pakistani militant group Lashkar e-Taiba and had also helped plan the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai. The terrorist plot involved at least a dozen attacks on tourist and other civilian targets in India’s largest city, conducted by small cells of highly trained LeT members who had arrived from Pakistan by boat. The coordinated attacks, which began on November 26 and ended three days later, killed 164 and wounded over 300 people. According to the FBI, Headley, who was born to a Pakistani father and an American mother, took advantage of his Western manners and physique to travel to Mumbai posing as an American tourist, in order to help map out the LeT operation. On Thursday, a court in Chicago sentenced Headley to 35 years in prison. Prior to his sentencing, Headley had pleaded guilty to all 12 counts brought against him by US prosecutors and is said to be cooperating with authorities —which is reportedly why he was spared the death penalty. However, the question in the minds of many terrorism observers is, will Headley be extradited to India to face charges there for what is often referred to as ‘India’s 9/11’? The answer is not so simple. Read more of this post

Murdered British businessman ‘was MI6 operative’ (we told you so)

Neil HeywoodBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An investigation by The Wall Street Journal has concluded that Neil Heywood, the British businessman who was murdered in China last November, was an active informant for British intelligence at the time of his death. The news appears to confirm intelNews’ assessment of April 2012 that Heywood was in fact connected with British intelligence. A highly successful financial consultant and fluent Chinese speaker who had lived in China for over a decade, Heywood was found dead on November 14, 2011, in his room at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel in Chongqing. His death led to the dramatic downfall of Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai, a husband-and-wife team of political celebrities who were found guilty in a Chinese court of killing the British businessman. Immediately after Heywood’s death, there was widespread speculation that he may have been a spy for MI6, Britain’s external intelligence service. On April 27, 2012, I argued that I was not aware of anyone “with serious knowledge of intelligence issues who was not completely certain, or did not deeply suspect, that Heywood had indeed collaborated with British intelligence at some stage during the past decade”. I wrote this in the face of an official denial by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who had said earlier in the week that “Heywood was not an employee of the British government in any capacity”. Now an extensive investigation by The Wall Street Journal has concluded that the dead British businessman had been an MI6 operative “for more than a year” prior to his death. Read more of this post

Danish Muslim convert claims he was CIA’s mole inside al-Qaeda

Morten StormBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Danish citizen who converted to Islam in the early 2000s claims he was a spy for the United States Central Intelligence Agency and helped track down an American-born Islamist cleric who was killed by a drone strike in 2010. The man, who goes by the name Morten Storm, told Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that he converted to Islam while living in the United Kingdom. But he quickly grew disillusioned, he said, and in 2006 he was recruited by the Danish Police Intelligence Service (PET). In subsequent years, he traveled several times to Yemen on PET missions, and gradually managed to gain the trust of members of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Eventually, he said, he grew close to one of AQAP’s central figures, the American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. At that point, claims Storm, the PET turned him over to the CIA, who allegedly used him to gather information on al-Awlaki. The Danish Muslim convert claims that his role as a CIA informant was so important that US President Barack Obama knows his name. He also told the paper that it was his information that eventually helped the CIA track and assassinate the charismatic cleric. According to Storm, the CIA supplied him with a memory stick that contained a stealth Global Positioning System tracking device. He sent the memory stick to al-Awlaki, who used it on his computer, thus allowing the CIA to track him down. In April 2010, President Obama ordered that al-Awlaki’s name be included on a list of individuals that the CIA was officially authorized to kill. Little less than a year later, on September 30, 2011, the cleric and three other suspected members of AQAP were killed when their car was hit by two Hellfire missiles in Yemen’s northern al-Jawf province. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #782 (history edition)

John A. McConeBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Did US DCI McCone authorize CIA assassinations? By the CIA’s own admission, we do know the Agency was involved in attempts to kill or overthrow several Third World leaders during the Cold War. But the doctrine of plausible deniability meant there is no paper trail identifying those who ordered such operations. Evidence is reasonably clear that Allen W. Dulles, who served as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) for nearly nine years, sanctioned them. But what about John A. McCone (pictured), whom Kennedy appointed as DCI in 1961? Is it possible that the CIA carried out assassination plots without his approval or even in the face of his disapproval? Newly discovered notes from a cryptic telephone call McCone made to Secretary of State Dean Rusk on August 21, 1962, support the claim that, while McCone opposed any open discussion of assassination proposals, he did not oppose the efforts as a matter of principle.
►►Ronald Reagan was FBI informant (Note: this is not new information, but it helps to refresh one’s memory from time to time). In the early stages of the Cold War, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover feared a ‘Kremlin-controlled conspiracy’ to infiltrate Hollywood and use the world’s largest producer of motion pictures to manipulate public opinion against America. In 1945, Ronald Reagan, then an actor, passed along some political gossip of special interest to Hoover. Eventually, Reagan served as an informer in the Bureau’s investigation of alleged communist infiltration of the radio and television industry. He was listed as “Confidential Informant T-36”. Agents described him as “reliable”.
►►Senior Black Panther member was FBI informant. Prominent 1960s Black Panther Party member Richard Masato Aoki, who gave the Black Panthers some of their first firearms and weapons training, was an undercover FBI informer in California, a former agent and FBI report reveal. Aoki’s role inside the Black Panthers was discovered by Seth Rosenfeld while researching his book Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power, which was published today by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Aoki’s life in the Black Panthers was documented in a 2009 film, Aoki and a 2012 biography titled Samurai Among Panthers. Neither mentioned his work with the FBI. Rosenfeld said Aoki had contended in a 2007 interview it wasn’t true he was an informant, but added: “people change. It is complex. Layer upon layer”.

News you may have missed #770

Horn of Africa mapBy TIMOTHY W. COLEMAN | intelNews.org |
►►Kaspersky Lab is ‘thwarting US cyber spies’. According to an article in Wired magazine, Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO of Russia-based Kaspersky Labs has been working to support Russian allies in the Kremlin and the FSB. Kasperksy’s firm first discovered the cyber attack weapon known as Stuxnet. As the profile piece notes, “Kaspersky’s rise is particularly notable —and to some, downright troubling— given his KGB-sponsored training, his tenure as a Soviet intelligence officer, his alliance with Vladimir Putin’s regime, and his deep and ongoing relationship with Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB”.
►►Al-Shabaab executes alleged CIA and MI6 assets. Somalia’s largest and most deadly armed Islamist group, al-Shabaab, announced that it had captured and executed at least three informants who were allegedly passing intelligence to the CIA and to MI6. The Associated Press stated that Al-Shabaab’s official Twitter feed stated that the individuals, who were summarily interrogated and then executed by firing squad, “were part of a wide network of spies deployed by the British and American intelligence agencies”.
►►Australian intelligence briefed on Canadian spy. The espionage case against accused Canadian spy, former Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Paul Delisle, continues to garner intrigue. As was previously reported on this blog, Delisle, a former navy intelligence officer is accused of spying for Russia. But a report in The National Post states that representatives of Canada’s intelligence service briefed members of Australia’s intelligence services on the Delisle’s case and that information exchanges appear ongoing. The particulars of Australia’s involvement in the case are explained here.

News you may have missed #763

RedHack posterBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Taiwan ex-colonel nabbed for spying for China. Cheng Lin-feng, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Taiwanese army, and civilian Tsai Teng-han, were taken in by Taiwanese police last week on suspicion of spying for China. Cheng was allegedly recruited by Chinese intelligence when he travelled to the mainland to do business, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement, adding that he had been investigated ever since a tip-off in 2009. A court spokesman said that details of case will be held until the investigation is completed.
Russian law brands foreign-funded NGOs ‘foreign agents’. Russia’s Lower House of Parliament has approved a bill that brands non-governmental organizations receiving funding from abroad as “foreign agents”, a law that activists fear the Kremlin will use to target critics. The bill is almost certain to be approved by the Upper House before being signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, who last year accused the US State Department of funding protests against him. The bill is seen by many analysts as setting up a legal infrastructure for a crackdown on the opposition. Meanwhile, official statistics show that wiretapping in the Russian Federation has nearly doubled over the past five years. The main driver of the rise, analysts say, involves the myriad of Russia’s rival security services spying on each other.
►►Turkish hackers release names of police informants. Members of Turkey’s Marxist cyberactivist group RedHack have dumped online a 75-megabyte text file with thousands of emails from Turkish police informants. The group said it released the information in retaliation against ultra-nationalist hackers who have been threatening opposition academics and journalists. RedHack, which has been using ‘defacement hacking’ to promote a Marxist political agenda since its founding, in 1997, is included on the Turkish government’s list of terrorist organizations. In March of this year, RedHack stole data from the Turkish police’s network, forcing the police to shut down all its servers.

Revealed: British government minister spied for Czechoslovakia

Raymond MawbyBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The BBC has uncovered evidence that a Conservative Party minister was a longtime paid informant for Czechoslovakia’s Cold-War-era secret intelligence service. The discovery was made earlier this month by the BBC’s security correspondent, Gordon Corera, while visiting the declassified archives of the Czechoslovakian ŠtB to investigate an alleged attempt to blackmail British Conservative politician Edward Heath in the 1970s.  Corera’s discovery shows that Raymond Mawby, who was a Tory Member of Parliament from 1955 until 1983, spied for the ŠtB in return for money for nearly a decade, starting in 1961.  The BBC describes Mawby, who served as assistant Postmaster General from 1963 to 1964, and rose to the rank of junior minister in 1963, as “an unusual Tory”, since he was “a working class trade unionist” from Devon. Indeed, his extensive ŠtB file, uncovered by the BBC, shows that he was not as loyal to conservative values as one might think. Mawby was first approached by Czechoslovakian intelligence in November 1960, while attending a cocktail reception at the Czechoslovakian embassy in London. His contacts with his ŠtB handlers became more frequent during the following year when, operating under the codename Laval, he began providing them with political information from the British Houses of Commons, in exchange for regular payments of £100. By 1964, he was on a £400 monthly retainer by the ŠtB, in return for supplying the Czechoslovaks with documents from Parliament, details about the personal lives of his colleagues, and lists of Parliamentary committee members. In one instance, Mawby even supplied his foreign handlers with a hand-drawn floor plan of the office of the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #747

Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich OlympicsBy TIMOTHY W. COLEMAN | intelNews.org |
►►Dutch media reportedly spied on China. Dutch media participated in a clandestine intelligence collection effort on behalf of the Netherlands General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. According to Dutch sources, at least seven reporters attending the Olympics were coaxed into, and were paid for, collecting information and taking photos of targeted Chinese officials interested in speaking with Dutch company and industry representatives. The AIVD did not comment on the allegations but did remark that Dutch law allows them to contact anyone who could provide or has access to intelligence.
►►Nicaragua arrests Colombian national for espionage. According to the Spanish-language weekly newspaper Semana, General Julio Cesar Aviles, the head of Nicaragua’s Army, announced the arrest of Colombian national Luis Felipe Rios, for seeking to “obtain Nicaraguan state documents about defense and national security”. The 34-year old Rios was apparently captured in Managua on Tuesday after having been under the surveillance of Nicaraguan counterintelligence officials for over a year. Rios was in Nicaragua under the guise of being a Spanish national working for a media outlet. The lead prosecutor in Nicaragua, Armando Juarez, claimed that there was “sufficient proof” to prosecute Rios. Colombian officials, including President Juan Manuel Santos, have stated they are investigating the matter.
►►Neo-Nazi linked to 1972 Munich Olympic terrorists. Recently released files by Germany’s security service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), links neo-Nazi Willi Pohl to forged passports provided to Black September terrorists who perpetrated the 1972 attack at the Munich Olympics. The attack resulted in the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes. According to German magazine Der Spiegel, over 2,000 documents were released in which the BfV asserts that Pohl assisted and even chauffeured one Black September member around Germany in the weeks leading up to the attack. German police arrested Pohl in 1972 for “unauthorized possession of firearms” and sentenced him to two years’ incarceration for possessing grenades and weapons. He was released only a few days after his conviction and he fled the country, ending up in Lebanon.

French spy agency denies Toulouse gunman was an informant

Mohammed MerahBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
France’s domestic intelligence agency has denied allegations, made by its former Director, that it employed as an informant the militant Islamist who recently killed seven people in Toulouse. Yves Bonnet, who headed France’s DCRI between 1982 and 1985, made the allegation in an interview with La Dépêche du Midi, one of France’s largest regional newspapers, headquartered in Toulouse. He was speaking about Mohammed Merah, the self-confessed al-Qaeda militant who died in a police assault on his flat last week. He was traced there after he murdered seven people, including three children and three soldiers, in three separate attacks. Speaking to La Dépêche on Tuesday, Bonnet said that Merah “was known to the DCRI, not especially because he was an Islamist, but because he kept contact with a correspondent [officer] in domestic intelligence”. By “correspondent in domestic intelligence”, Bonnet meant that Merah had a handler inside the DCRI, who met with him on a regular basis. But Bonnet’s claim was forcefully rejected on the same day by Bernard Squarcini, the current Director of the DCRI —France’s equivalent of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. Squarcini confirmed that Merah did in fact meet with a DCRI officer in November in 2011. But he said that the meeting was arranged so that the DCRI officer could interview Merah about his trips to Afghanistan, which he entered in 2010 and 2011 using a tourist visa. Squarcini denied that this meeting designated Merah as an informant, and specifically stated that the self-styled al-Qaeda militant “was not employed as an informant by the DCRI or by any other French intelligence agency”. Read more of this post

WikiLeaks document to expose Swedish Foreign Minister as US spy

Carl BildtBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
International whistleblower website WikiLeaks says it intends to publish a classified document that allegedly exposes Sweden’s current Foreign Minister as a spy for the United States. According to Swedish newspaper Expressen, which says it has seen the document in question, Carl Bildt, Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, is shown to have operated as an informant for the United States since the mid-1970s. The revelation, which is allegedly included in a classified diplomatic cable sent from the American embassy in Stockholm to the US Department of State, is likely to cause a major political crisis in Sweden and end the career of Carl Bildt, a popular politician who served as Sweden’s Prime Minister between 1991 and 1994. In an article published on Wednesday, Expressen cites an anonymous WikiLeaks source that claims Bildt “cooperated with the American government in a manner that is in direct violation of Swedish law”. The paper also states that, according to the incriminating document, Bildt was initially recruited by US intelligence through Republican political strategist Karl Rove, who is known to have been “an old personal friend” of the Swedish politician. According to the Expressen report, WikiLeaks has decided to publicize the leaked diplomatic cable as a warning against the Swedish government, which is said to be considering extraditing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #683

Lech WalesaBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Walesa scorns new claims he was communist informant. Poland’s former President and Solidarity founder Lech Walesa has brushed off new claims that crucial documents concerning his alleged collaboration with Poland’s communist secret services may be stored in the Polish parliament’s archives. “I know that if there are any papers on me that are unknown, they are only toilet paper”, he said in an interview with Polish television network TVN. Rumors and accusations that Walesa, an anti-communist union leader was in fact a secret communist informant have been circulating for years in Poland.
►►Israeli embassy in Singapore dismisses Barak assassination plot. The Israeli embassy in Singapore confirmed Friday that Defense Minister Ehud Barak had visited the city-state, but dismissed reports of an assassination plot targeting him. Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida wrote recently that Barak had been targeted for assassination by three members of a Hezbollah militant cell during his trip to Singapore from February 12-15.
►►Moves to question Turkish spy chiefs quashed. State prosecutors have abandoned an attempt to question Turkey’s spy chiefs over past secret contacts with Kurdish militants, after government moves to curb their investigation of the intelligence agency (MİT). State media said on Monday that prosecutors lifted an order summoning MİT head Hakan Fidan. Nice to be reminded who is really in charge in 21st-century ‘democratic’ Turkey.

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