Israel wiretapped PLO head office in Tunisia: report

Yasser Arafat in Tunis in 1993By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Israeli intelligence was able to intercept the conversations of senior Palestinian leaders in Tunisia in the months leading to the 1993 Oslo Accords, according to an article published Monday by a leading Israeli newspaper. Veteran security correspondent Ronen Bergman wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth  that sophisticated listening devices were planted in the office of Mahmoud Abbas. Today, Abbas, known also as Abu Mazen, is the President of the Palestinian National Authority, based in the occupied West Bank. But in 1993 he was Deputy Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), serving under its founder and Chairman, Yasser Arafat. At that time, the PLO was headquartered in Tunisian capital Tunis, where it had relocated in 1982 after it was driven out of Lebanon during Israel’s invasion. Bergman said that the operation, codenamed GOLDEN FLEECE, was authorized by Shabtai Shavit, who was at the time Director of the Mossad, Israel’s primary covert-action agency. The operation, considered one of the Mossad’s most important and secret at the time, was carried out by a Palestinian agent who had been recruited by Israeli intelligence. The agent, described by Bergman as a “man within the PLO leadership”, was allegedly affiliated with Fatah, a Palestinian political party that has traditionally formed the largest faction within the PLO. The agent allegedly managed to plant at least two eavesdropping devices at the personal office of the PLO’s Vice Chairman, one in his office chair and one inside one of the desk lamps in the room. Bergman says that, on the day the devices became operational, Shavit held an emergency meeting to inform the Mossad’s senior commanders about their existence. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #812

Yasser ArafatBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Russia to help probe Yasser Arafat’s death. Russia will join an international investigation to determine whether the first Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat, was murdered, the current Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has said. French and Swiss experts are due to exhume Arafat’s body in Ramallah later this month in an attempt to discover how he died after an al-Jazeera documentary in July suggested he was killed by a rare radioactive poison. Abbas asked Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov for Moscow’s help during talks in Jordan, Palestinian sources said.
►►Revisiting the foiled 1984 Nigerian kidnap plot. In London in 1984, a team of Nigerians and Israelis attempted to kidnap and repatriate the exiled former Nigerian minister Umaru Dikko. Mr. Dikko, who had fled Nigeria after a military coup, was accused of stealing $1bn (£625m) of government money. The plot was foiled by a young British customs officer and, as a result, diplomatic relations between the UK and Nigeria broke down and were only fully restored two years later. The Nigerian and Israeli governments have always denied involvement in the kidnapping.
►►Putin congratulates KGB double spy on his birthday. Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated famous double agent George Blake on his 90th birthday, the Kremlin press office has said. Blake betrayed British intelligence starting in the 1950s; he was found out in 1961 and sentenced to 42 years in prison. But he escaped five years later using a ladder of rope and knitting needles, made his way to the Soviet Union and has been living out his last years serenely in a cottage outside Moscow. After his escape from the Wormwood Scrubs prison in London, he was smuggled to Berlin in a wooden box in the back of a van. In the interview published last week, he said he then presented himself to border guards in East Berlin, asked to speak to a Soviet officer, and when told to wait, immediately fell into a deep sleep.

Israel intelligence source warns of West Bank collapse

Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A senior source inside Israel’s intelligence community has warned that the continuing building of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories could cause the rapid collapse of the Fatah government in the West Bank. Speaking anonymously to the BBC, the intelligence official cautioned that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, “is tired and fed up”, and that if he “continued to be humiliated” by Israel’s refusal to halt illegal settlement construction he might “step down and return home”. This would terminate the ongoing negotiations between Israel and Fatah, mediated by Washington, and could bring down the Fatah government in the West Bank, in a chaotic process that would ultimately “be a major setback for Israel”, said the official. Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and elsewhere, lack international recognition, and in recent years Israel has been pressured by its allies, including the United States, to stop residential expansion into the Palestinian Territories. Read more of this post

Comment: Is Palestinian Fatah Spying for Israel?

Mohammed Dahlan

Dahlan

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Gaza-based Palestinian movement Hamas has again accused a senior official of rival Palestinian group Fatah of spying for Israel. Speaking last week from Gaza Damascus, Syria, Hamas official Mohammed Nazal said that Fatah Central Committee member Mohammed Dahlan, who has been tipped for the post of Vice President in Fatah-controlled Palestinian National Authority, is actively gathering information on behalf of Israeli intelligence. Nazal said Hamas received a tip-off about Dahlan from a former security officer in the Palestinian National Authority, who appears to have defected to Hamas. The unnamed informant reportedly met with Hamas defense officials on Friday, and told them that Dahlan had asked him to “collect detailed information” about the March 26 execution of two Palestinians, who were accused by Hamas of working for Israeli intelligence. He also claimed that Dahlan showed him a lengthy list of known Hamas operatives and asked him to determine the precise location of their residences in the Gaza strip. Read more of this post

Is CIA collaborating with Palestinian spy agencies?

West Bank

West Bank

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A British newspaper has alleged that Palestinian security agencies in the West Bank are working with the CIA so closely that CIA officials “consider them as their property”. London-based quality broadsheet The Guardian said that CIA agents routinely advise and supervise the work of the two main security agencies of the Fatah-aligned Palestinian National Authority, namely the General Intelligence service and the Preventive Security Organization. The trouble with this arrangement is that both services have been documented to resort to severe torture of West Bank members of rival Palestinian group Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2006. And the CIA has had more than a little trouble with torture in recent times. So is the CIA guiding overzealous Palestinian National Authority security agents in extracting intelligence by torturing Hamas sympathizers? Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0108

  • Fatah dismisses spy chief in West Bank. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has dismissed Palestinian General Intelligence Chief Mohammad Abu Assam. The dismissal appears to be part of a broader plan to unify the Palestinian Preventive Security Service and the General Intelligence Service, who have been fighting a notorious turf war for several years.
  • Indian Intelligence Bureau wants to block all VOIP Services. India’s Intelligence Bureau has instructed the country’s communications ministry to block all VOIP (internet-based) calls in the country until it figures out a mechanism to track them. It has also said it wants access to the content of all mobile phone calls in the country. Indian security agencies have been struggling with this issue since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, after it emerged that the attackers used VOIP software to communicate with the their handlers.
  • Is Afghan President’s brother a US informant? There is speculation that Ahmed Wali Karzai, notorious drug lord and younger brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, is in fact an informant for US intelligence agencies. It true, this would explain why he has been allowed by US agencies to operate freely in the country.

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Analysis: Early Thoughts on Medhat’s Assassination

Kamal Medhat

Kamal Medhat

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Kamal Medhat, 58, was a senior Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) official. He was assassinated on March 23 by a roadside bomb that struck a PLO convoy outside the entrance to the Mieh Mieh refugee camp, located near Sidon in southern Lebanon. Since Medhat’s assassination, intelNews has received several emails from readers pointing the finger at Israel’s intelligence services. There is no doubt that Medhat’s assassination is a significant setback for the broader secular Palestinian movement, and especially for Fatah, of which Medhat was a senior member. A former aide to the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Medhat had previously served as Fatah’s director of intelligence in Lebanon, and was a key supporter of Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. To my knowledge, Medhat was the most senior Palestinian official (of any faction) assassinated in Lebanon in nearly 30 years. Nevertheless, although an Israeli role in his assassination should not be ruled out, it would be premature to conclude at this stage that Israeli intelligence services were behind the operation. Read article →

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