How are Ukrainian weapons ending up in the hands of ISIS?

Antiaircraft missileSignificant amounts of Ukrainian-manufactured weapons are ending up in the hands of the Islamic State, prompting accusations that Kiev may be arming the militant group in an effort to impair its regional foe Russia. Persisting rumors that Ukraine may be secretly arming the Islamic State —also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS— resurfaced last week, when authorities in Kuwait arrested six men suspected of working for the militant group. Among them was Osama Mohammed Saeed Khaiyat, a Syrian citizen of Lebanese background, who is believed to have traveled to Europe and the Middle East in search of weapons to be purchased by the Islamic State. Khaiyat, 45, allegedly told his captors that he has made several trips to Ukraine in the past, where he has purchased weapons and ammunition on behalf of the group. The weapons are purchased with cash, said Khaiyat, and are then delivered to Islamic State fighters in Syria through smuggling routes in the Black Sea and in Turkey.

As can be expected, Khaiyat’s revelations rekindled rumors that the government of Ukraine may be secretly funding the Islamic State, or may be turning a blind eye to secret dealings between weapons merchants and Islamic State arms procurers. The theory goes that Kiev is hoping that a well-armed Islamic State may be able to bog down Russian armed forces in Syria and thus distract Moscow from its military operations in eastern Ukraine. However, there is no proof that Ukraine’s state-owned Ukroboronprom weapons conglomerate, which oversees the country’s military–industrial complex, is the source of the weapons. It is worth noting that millions of weapons have been stolen from Ukrainian government depots since the start of the war in Donbass, and that weapons-smuggling has increased dramatically as a result. Moreover, Khaiyat told his Kuwaiti captors that FN-6 portable antiaircraft surface-to-air missiles were among the weapons he bought in Ukraine. The FN-6 is a Chinese-manufactured weapon, which has never been sold to the Ukrainian military. On the other hand, the Ukrainians could have purchased that weapon from the Chinese through a front-company, before supplying it to the black market.

Speaking to Russian news agency TASS, a spokesman for the Ukrainian military said on Friday that authorities in the former Soviet republic had no idea how the weapons were reaching the Islamic State. Vladislav Seleznyov, who speaks on behalf of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ General Staff, told TASS that Kiev had “not produced or purchased Chinese-designed antiaircraft missile systems”, nor had it “provided transit for their transportation” to Syria. He added that reporters “should turn to law enforcement agencies on this issue”, as the Ukrainian military had “nothing to report on this topic”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 23 November 2015 | Permalink

Turkey refused to extradite bin Laden’s son-in-law to US

Ghaith (left) with bin Laden and al-ZawahiriBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Turkish authorities have reportedly rejected a formal extradition request by the United States for a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, who was arrested in Ankara on Friday following a tip-off by the Central Intelligence Agency. Suleiman Abu Ghaith was born in Kuwait but had his citizenship revoked after publicly opposing the rule of the Kuwaiti monarchy and demanding the institution of shari’a law in the oil emirate. In 2000, he traveled to Afghanistan where he met Osama bin Laden and joined al-Qaeda. He eventually married Fatima bin Laden, one of bin Laden’s numerous daughters, who is currently living in Saudi Arabia. He gradually rose within the ranks of the organization, eventually becoming one of its public spokesmen. Soon after the US invasion of Afghanistan, in 2001, Ghaith is believed to have escaped from Afghanistan by entering Iran on foot. He was eventually captured by Iranian government forces and placed in a detention camp along with other suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban members. It is not known how he managed to leave Iran and enter Turkey (though some say he was released the by Iranian authorities), or how the CIA knew of his presence there. However, according to Turkey’s leading daily Milliyet, the Agency contacted members of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (known as MİT) and told them that Ghaith had entered the country on a forged passport. He was arrested soon afterwards at a hotel in Ankara’s affluent Çankaya district. The hotel where Ghaith was captured is reportedly located near the official residence of the Turkish President and a stone’s throw from numerous foreign embassies —including the embassy of the US, which was attacked by a suicide bomber on February 1. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #730

Majid Jamali FashiBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Iran executes man convicted of killing nuclear physicist. Iran on Tuesday hanged Majid Jamali Fashi, convicted of playing a key role in the 2010 murder of Iranian nuclear scientist Masoud Ali Mohammadi, and of spying for Israel. Mohammadi, a particle physics professor at Tehran University who was killed in a bomb attack outside his home in January 2010.
►►Bahrain sentences man accused of spying for Iran. Bahraini authorities accused the unnamed 47-year-old man of having leaked high-level information on Bahrain’s military, Interior Ministry and US Naval Base. He was allegedly paid more than BD27,000 on behalf of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard by two Iranians who lived in Kuwait. The two Iranians, who worked as diplomats in the Iranian Embassy in Kuwait, were convicted in absentia for selling military, industrial and economic information to Iran between 2002 and last April.
►►NSA declassifies document after publishing it. The National Security Agency last week invoked a rarely-used authority in order to declassify a secret document that was mistakenly posted on the NSA website with all of its classified passages intact. The article (.pdf) is a historical study entitled Maybe You Had to Be There: The SIGINT on Thirteen Soviet Shootdowns of US Reconnaissance Aircraft. It was written by Michael L. Peterson and was originally published in the classified journal Cryptologic Quarterly in 1993.

News you may have missed #672

Osama bin LadenBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►CIA claims bin Laden death photos would trigger violence. The Central Intelligence Agency says releasing images of a dead Osama bin Laden “could trigger violence, attacks, or acts of revenge against the United States”. Disclosing such images, including one showing the bullet wound to bin Laden’s head, the government said, “plausibly and logically pose a particularly grave threat of inflaming anti-American sentiment and resulting in retaliatory harm”. The agency made that argument Wednesday in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch, which claims the CIA should release the photos taken by US forces. The American public, Judicial Watch said, has a “right to these historical artifacts”.
►►Kuwait accused of tapping phones of prominent citizens. According to the report published in Kuwaiti media, the country’s State Security Department purchased an integrated intelligence system from a former Soviet country last year, and placed it in a restricted zone inside the headquarters’ building. But last July, everything in the isolated room, including staff members hired specifically to operate the devices, vanished without an explanation, said sources. An investigation is currently ongoing to unearth the mystery behind the devices’ disappearance, and also examine information which hint that the devices could have been used by a certain unnamed individual to spy on prominent Kuwaitis.
►►Did US FDA spy on whistleblowers? The US Food and Drug Administration electronically spied on whistleblowers who alerted the Obama administration and Congress of alleged misconduct in the agency, according to a complaint filed in a US federal court. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the FDA and several of its employees, the Surgeon General, the Health and Human Services Secretary, among others.

News you may have missed #652

Amir Mirzaei HekmatiBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Kremlin accused of covert tactics against opposition. The Kremlin says it will allow opposition groups to hold rallies, but cases of alleged preemptive arrests and phone-tapping show that it may be still seeking to defeat the protest movement. For previous intelNews coverage of civil liberties in Russia see here.
►►Iran releases two Kuwaitis accused of spying. Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency says that two Kuwaitis detained In Iran for spying last month have been cleared of their charges and released. The report quoted Iran’s ambassador to Kuwait, Ruhollah Qahremani, as saying the men had illegally worked as journalists in Iran while traveling on tourist visas, but initial speculation that they were spies “had been wrong”.
►►US sources deny spy charges for American detained in Iran. Amir Mirzaei Hekmati (pictured), from Arizona, who has been captured in Iran allegedly on a CIA mission, has not received any intelligence training from the US military, according to Pentagon sources. Also, one of Hekmati’s colleagues claims the Iranian-American helped develop an electronic translator for US troops but “wouldn’t have been involved in espionage”.

News you may have missed #631

Tommy Douglas

Tommy Douglas

►►Some spy files on Canadian prominent politician released. Newly declassified records from the early 1960s show that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police spied on Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas (pictured), suspecting him of communist sympathies. Douglas, a popular leftwing politician, led the first social democratic government in North America.
►►Aussie diplomats urged to welcome defectors in 1980s. The Australian government urged its spies and diplomats to encourage foreign officials to defect to Australia and welcome intelligence they might bring with them, according to internal documents from the 1980s, released this week. The directives noted that applications from defectors were not expected to be numerous “but failure on our part to handle them deftly could result in the loss of intelligence relevant to Australia’s security and other interests”. One observer notes that the 1980s policy towards defectors still applies today in Australia’s diplomatic community.
►►Iran arrests two Kuwaitis on suspicion of espionage. Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency says Iranian security has detained two Kuwaiti citizens in southwestern Iran for suspected espionage activities. Fars quoted Bahram Ilkhaszadeh, governor of Abadan, a town close to Kuwait, as saying that Iran’s security agents detained the two on possession of “spying equipment”. Kuwait has denied the charges.

News you may have missed #585 [updated]



►►GCHQ recovers £300m worth of stolen information. Details stolen from more than a million credit cards across Europe, worth an estimated £300 million, have been recovered by Britain’s GCHQ signals intelligence spy agency, according to The Daily Telegraph.
►►Kuwait arrests alleged Iraqi spy. Kuwait security forces have arrested a man of Iraqi origin for alleged intelligence links with Iraq, a Kuwaiti daily said on Sunday. The man, who was arrested on Friday, and is referred to by the media as “Abu Ahmad”, was staying illegally in the country and allegedly provided Iraq with sensitive information about vital facilities in Kuwait. This is the third time in recent months that the government of Kuwait has pressed espionage charges against a spy suspect. [Update: Kuwait denies reports of spy’s arrest]
►►Hackers steal CIA and Mossad SSL certificates. The tally of digital certificates stolen from a Dutch company in July has exploded to more than 500, including ones for intelligence services like the CIA, the UK’s MI6, and Israel’s Mossad, a Mozilla developer said Sunday. According to some sources, the hackers were Iranian.


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