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

Ghaith (left) with bin Laden and al-ZawahiriBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
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

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News you may have missed #730

Majid Jamali FashiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►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.

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Osama bin LadenBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►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.

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Amir Mirzaei HekmatiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►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

GCHQ

►►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.

Ex-Bush official advised Gaddafi until early August, documents show

Libya

Libya

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Intelligence documents found at the headquarters of Libya’s abandoned spy agency appear to show that the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi enjoyed the support of an American diplomat who served in the Bush administration. Al Jazeera reports that David Welch, who was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs in the US Department of State between 2005 and 2008, met on August 2 with Gaddafi officials in the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo, Egypt. According to a Libyan intelligence memo from the meeting, Welch, who now works for Bechtel Corporation, gave the Gaddafi officials tips on how “to win the propaganda war” against the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC). He also instructed them to undermine Libya’s rebel movement by relying on several “confidence-building measures”, including controlled intelligence leaks aimed at manipulating the news output of Arab and Western media. The documents also reveal that Gaddafi maintained spies at the highest echelons of the rebel council, and that at least one of these spies offered to assassinate rebel leaders by “poisoning their food and water”. However, despite maintaining an ample amount of informants inside the NTC, the Gaddafi regime found it difficult to collect reliable and actionable intelligence during the civil war. Characteristically, many of the names of NTC’s central figures are misspelled in intelligence field reports, and one intelligence analyst complained recently that “the majority of those currently working for the intelligence administration are ill-prepared to carry out intelligence duties”. Despite these shortcomings, however, Gaddafi’s spies inside the NTC appear to have managed to intercept a large number of telephone messages and confidential emails between the NTC and foreign diplomats. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #558

Amrullah Saleh

Amrullah Saleh

►► US government says Iran aids al-Qaeda. The US Treasury Department has accused the Iranian authorities of aiding al-Qaeda, saying Tehran had entered into financial agreements with six people believed to be al-Qaeda operatives in Iran, Kuwait, Qatar and Pakistan. According to Treasury officials, one of the six “is believed to have recently ascended to the No. 2 position in Al Qaeda, reporting directly to the organization’s new leader, Ayman al-Zawahri”.
►►Interview with Afghan spy chief. CNN has an exclusive interview with Amrullah Saleh, the –usually media-shy– former head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security. The interview is essentially one long attack on Pakistan, which Saleh blames for destabilizing Afghanistan, hiding and sheltering al-Qaeda members, and providing funding and arms to the Taliban.
►►Sudan’s spy chief secretly visited France in June. The director of Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Services (NISS), Mohamed Atta al-Moula Abbas, secretly traveled to Paris last June. He held talks there with Read more of this post

News you may have missed #534

MI6 HQ

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
According to extracts from the diary of Alastair Campbell, British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s communications director from 2000 to 2003, officials from the MI6 intelligence agency told Blair that France and Germany aimed to “exploit his feud” with then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. Gotta love European unity. In Kuwait, meanwhile, the oil state’s Al-Shahed daily quotes “knowledgeable sources”, who claim that “a lot of spy networks exploit the Kuwaiti environment” and use the country as a transit point to spy on neighboring countries. Hopefully the Kuwaitis will not emulate authorities in Dubai, which in March of last year called on all foreign spies “to leave the region within a week. If not”, they warned, “we will cross that bridge when we come to it”. In the nearby state of Israel, public opinion is still divided about former Mossad chief Meir Dagan’s criticism of the Netanyahu government. As Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg notes, Dagan has “called into question the wisdom –and, privately, even the sanity– of any Israeli leader who contemplates a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities”. But why is he doing it, and could it backfire?

News you may have missed #530

  • Another spy ring reportedly busted in Kuwait. Kuwait has allegedly busted another spy ring, working for the intelligence services “of an Arab country [that] is currently embroiled in political turmoil”, reports Al-Jaridah daily. The paper also said that information gathered by the spy ring was sent to a liaison officer in the embassy of that country. Last April, two Iranians and a Kuwaiti national, all serving in Kuwait’s army, were sentenced to death for belonging to an Iranian spy ring.
  • How defectors come in from the cold. Interesting historical account of how defectors adjust to their new lives, from the BBC’s News Magazine. Sadly, much of the article is about –you guessed it– the Cambridge Five, which the British seem unable to get over, half a century later.
  • UK report says hackers should fight cyber spies. Britain faces losing its position at the leading edge of technology unless new ideas are developed to fight cyber attacks, including recruiting computer hackers to help fight organized cyber crime and espionage by foreign powers. This is the conclusion of a new report by the University College London’s Institute for Security and Resilience Studies.

News you may have missed #495

News you may have missed #490

  • How Moussa Koussa defected to Britain. This is the best account (so far) of the recent defection of the Libyan former intelligence chief, by The Independent of London, republished here by The New Zealand Herald.
  • Mossad does not play by the rules, says ex-MI6 director. “Israel plays by a different set of rules than the rules that we observe in the UK”, said former MI6 director Sir Richard Dearlove in a conference Wednesday, adding that British intelligence isn’t always forthcoming with sharing information with the Mossad.
  • Kuwait may expel Iranian diplomats over spying affair. Kuwait’s foreign minister said yesterday that three Iranian diplomats may be expelled over a spying row in the Gulf Arab state, and that his government had withdrawn its ambassador from Tehran.

News you may have missed #489

  • Russian spies want their stuff back from the FBI. Two of the ten Russians deported from the United States in a spy row last July have demanded that some of the property they were forced to leave behind be returned to them. The claim was lodged on behalf of Vladimir and Lidia Guryev, better known as Richard and Cynthia Murphy.
  • Kuwait sentences three to death for espionage. Two Iranians and a Kuwaiti national, all serving in Kuwait’s army, were condemned to death yesterday for belonging to an Iranian spy ring, which allegedly passed on information to the Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. A Syrian and a stateless Arab, who are also members of the alleged spy ring, were handed life terms.
  • ‘Foreign spies’ hacked Australian leader’s computer. Chinese hackers seeking information on commercial secrets are suspected of having broken into a computer used by Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister. Her computer was among 10 machines used by senior government ministers which were compromised by the hackers. According to one source, the Australians were tipped off to the hacking by the CIA and the FBI.

News you may have missed #350

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News you may have missed #346 (Iran spy ring edition)

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