News you may have missed #579 (CIA edition)

Robert Grenier

Robert Grenier

►►Interview with ex-CIA Islamabad station chief. Robert Grenier, who was the CIA’s Islamabad station chief from 1999 to 2001, tells Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper that the US unmanned drone program, which began as “a very surgically employed tool against international terrorists”, has now “become much more of a conventional weapon against militants”. He also rejects allegations that Pakistani government officials were aware of osama bin Laden’s whereabouts, saying that “no one has apparently found any compelling evidence”.
►►Who will guide Petraeus in his new CIA job? Siobhan Gorman, of The Wall Street Journal, opines that, when US General David Petraeus takes the helm at the Central Intelligence Agency next month, it will fall to the Agency’s deputy director Michael J. Morell, a little-known 31-year CIA veteran, to guide the new director.
►►CIA drone kills al-Qaeda deputy. An anonymous US official has told The New York Times that a CIA drone killed al-Qaeda’s second-ranking operative in Pakistan’s northwest province of Waziristan. Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the past year had taken over as al-Qaeda’s top operational planner, was killed on August 22, according to the official. Al-Qaeda is still officially led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is also believed to be in Pakistan.

About these ads

News you may have missed #519

  • Australian ex-spy wins right to compensation. The former spy, known only as FXWZ, worked for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation for almost 15 years before leaving it in 1979. Now at 67, he has won the right to compensation claiming that his work for ASIO induced a mental disorder.
  • Eritrea releases UK citizens detained for espionage. The four British men, two of whom are former Royal Marines, were arrested in Eritrea last December on suspicion of espionage, after they were caught in possession of arms including 18 different types of snipers, ammunition and night vision equipment. They have been released after a months-long diplomatic row between Eritrea and Britain.
  • Pakistan to deport US national suspected of spying. Twenty-seven year-old Matthew Craig Barrett has been arrested for allegedly scouting nuclear facilities near the Pakistani capital Islamabad, and is expected to be deported soon.

Analysis: Myths and Questions on bin Laden’s Assassination

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

By J. FITSANAKIS and I. ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The assassination of al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, has helped dispel several myths about him and the organization he founded in 1988 in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Among them is the idea that the Saudi-born militant was leading a primitive existence in some remote hillside in Waziristan, sheltered by mountainous tribes that were supposedly loyal to him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite his reputation as a hardened mujahedeen, bin Laden had chosen to spend his days in the unmatched comfort of a sprawling luxury compound located only an hour’s drive from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. The compound is located in a relatively wealthy suburb of the city of Abbottabad, which is also home to the Kakul Military Academy, Pakistan’s elite army training school. More importantly, the descriptions of bin Laden’s luxurious hideout fly in the face of the predominant view of al-Qaeda as an organization that knows how to blend in with its surroundings. Not only did the compound stand out, but, according to one American official, it was “eight times larger than the other homes in the town”. It featured 3,000 feet of living space, to house bin Laden, his four wives, and several advisors and guards. It appears to have been custom-built to bin Laden’s specifications in 2005, which would explain the existence of numerous built-in security features, including at least two heavily fortified security gates, seven-foot-high perimeter walls, and even solid blast-proof enclosures on all balconies. Continue reading →

US reducing spy presence in Pakistan, say papers

Pakistan

Pakistan

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Several Pakistani publications report that the United States has suspended some of its intelligence operations in Pakistan and is pulling several of its operatives out of the country. The Islamabad-based Express-Tribune, which is partnered with The International Herald Tribune (the global edition of The New York Times), says that the US move is designed to pre-empt an ongoing investigation by Pakistani authorities into the whereabouts and activities of hundreds of US diplomats in several of the country’s regions. According to the paper, Pakistan’s foreign ministry is in the process of conducting its first detailed investigation into the US diplomatic community in Pakistan in almost three years. The ministry has told the Express Tribune that it has detected 851 Americans operating in Pakistan with diplomatic immunity, of whom nearly 300 “are not working in a diplomatic capacity”. The paper also cites sources inside Pakistan’s ministry of the interior, which claim that as many as 414 American diplomats operating in Pakistan are members of the US intelligence community. Over 40 US intelligence operatives have allegedly left the country or have completely suspended their activities in recent weeks. Read more of this post

US embassy worker caught monitoring Pakistan naval site

Abdul Ghafoor's US embassy ID card

Ghafoor's ID card

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Pakistani news outlets have reported the arrest last month of an employee at the US embassy in Islamabad who was reportedly caught monitoring Pakistan’s Naval Headquarters at Zafar Chowk, a site targeted by a suicide bomber on December 3. Leading Pakistani daily The Nation published the US embassy identity card of the man, Abdul Ghafoor, who was reportedly apprehended by Pakistani Naval Police and intelligence officers in the morning of November 18. Interestingly, Ghafoor, who was said to have been acting “suspiciously”, was found to be carrying a camera with him, and to be riding a motorcycle “with a number plate that was found to be fake when checked”. Several commentators have suggested that the case points to a routine surveillance operation, which warrants further investigation in light of the December 3 suicide bombing attack at the Naval Headquarters. Read more of this post

US wont’ share al-Qaeda intelligence, say Pakistani spies

Quetta, Pakistan

Quetta, Pakistan

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A number of senior Pakistani security officials have accused US spy agencies of systematically withholding from their Pakistani counterparts actionable intelligence on al-Qaeda and Taliban activities in Pakistan. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officials complained to The Washington Times that the last time the CIA shared actionable intelligence on al-Qaeda with the government of Pakistan was in 2007. They also said that recent public assertions by US officials that senior al-Qaeda leaders are hiding in Quetta, Pakistan, have not been followed with corresponding actionable intelligence by US spy agencies. The allegations shed further light on the increasingly severed intelligence relationship between Washington and Islamabad, which began shortly before the 2008 ousting of American-supported Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharraf. Read more of this post

Pakistani spies “visibly angry” at US charge of Taliban links

A.S. Pasha

A.S. Pasha

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Recently, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s secretive spy service, gave Washington Post’s associate editor, David Ignatius, a rare look inside its Islamabad headquarters. However, the first known visit to the ISI by a Western journalist in recent years failed to impress the Pakistanis. The latter became “visibly angry” when Ignatius asked them whether they are withholding information about al-Qaeda and the Taliban, as the CIA and other US intelligence agencies claim. The charges, which are disputed by Pakistani officials, led to “a long and animated conversation” with ISI Director, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who forbade the US journalist from quoting him directly. Read more of this post

Former agent reveals aspects of CIA’s bin Laden hunt

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Arthur “Art” Keller, a retired CIA agent who spent several years looking for Osama bin Laden in the Afghan-Pakistani border areas has given a rare interview to The London Times. Until his recent retirement, Keller participated in the 50- to 100-strong covert CIA force in the region, whose primary task since 9/11 has been to capture or kill senior al-Qaeda commanders. He told the paper that the failure to find bin Laden has led the agency to start bringing back retired members of “The Cadre”, a close-knit group of Pashto- and Dari-speaking CIA agents, who spent many years in Afghanistan in the 1980s, during America’s proxy war with the Soviet Union. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0101

  • Red Army Faction member was on German spy service payroll. German media report that Verena Becker, a former member of the militant student organization Red Army Faction, who was arrested last week in connection with a murder committed thirty years ago, worked as an informant for the German secret services.
  • Pakistanis worried about US embassy expansion. In a rare article in the English-speaking press, The Washington Post examines the Pakistani population’s opposition to the planned expansion of the US embassy in Islamabad.
  • A.Q. Khan tells all about Pakistani nuclear program. Recently released from house arrest, the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb has given an interview to a Pakistani television station, in which he reveals that Pakistan was able to detonate a nuclear device within a week’s notice in as early as 1984.

Bookmark and Share

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 683 other followers