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.
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News you may have missed #521 (Israel edition)

  • Lebanese officer gets 20 years for spying for Israel. Mansour Diab’s sentence marks the first time a Lebanese officer was convicted of spying for Israel. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s militant Shiite group Hezbollah has arrested several of its own members on suspicion of spying for Israel. Last weekend the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai al-Aam reported that the group “was dumbfounded over the Israeli infiltration”, which appears to have been substantial.
  • Israel pressures US to temporarily release jailed spy. Several Israeli leaders on Sunday urged the United States to allow jailed Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard to attend his father’s funeral, after he was not granted permission to join him at his bedside before he died.
  • Israel seeks prisoner exchange for Ilan Grapel. Israel is pursuing a prisoner exchange for Ilan Grapel, a 27-year-old American-Israeli dual citizen, who was arrested by Egyptian state security officers at his downtown Cairo hotel last Sunday on charges of spying for Israeli intelligence. Meanwhile, both the US and Israel insist Grapel is no spy.

Former Mossad chief calls Israeli leadership ‘reckless’

Meir Dagan

Meir Dagan

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
The man who headed for eight years Israel’s most powerful spy agency has launched a new round of serious criticisms against the country’s political leadership. Meir Dagan, who led the Mossad from 2002 until January of this year, told Israeli newspapers that Israel’s current government is led by “reckless and irresponsible” people, who will not hesitate to engage in military adventurism abroad to ensure their political primacy at home. Israeli commentators interpret these comments as a reference to a reputed military attack by Tel Aviv against Iran’s nuclear energy program installations. Dagan’s comments follow similar criticisms he leveled against the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month. Speaking at a conference held at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, he warned that any military action against Iran would be “patently illegal under international law” and that it would probably not achieve its goals, since Iranian nuclear installations are deliberately dispersed in locations across that vast country. Consequently, the widespread nature of the attack could lead to a prolonged war, “the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end”, he told conference participants. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #496

  • US secretly collaborating with Chinese spies on North Korea. Leaked records of highly sensitive US-China defense consultations reveal that the CIA, the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the US Defense Department, have all held secret discussions on North Korea with Chinese military intelligence.
  • Cuba denounces acquittal of ex-CIA agent. Cuba has denounced as a ‘farce’ the acquittal in the United States of Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA agent who Havana says participated in terrorist attacks against the island. Carriles was accused of lying to US immigration officials.
  • Analysis: US spy agencies struggling to adjust to Middle East changes. With popular protests toppling rulers in Tunisia and Egypt and threatening leaders in Yemen and elsewhere, US intelligence agencies are struggling to adjust to a radically changed landscape, US officials, former intelligence officers and experts say.

News you may have missed #495

Analysis: Spy Agencies Failed to Predict Egypt Uprising

Egypt uprising

Egypt uprising

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
It is becoming increasingly clear that the ongoing popular uprising in Egypt represents the most important geopolitical development in the Middle East since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. In light of this, it is remarkable how unprepared foreign intelligence agencies have proven in forecasting the crisis. Even the Israelis were caught completely unaware: on January 25, the day when massive protests first erupted across Egypt, Major General Aviv Kochavi, newly appointed head of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate, told a Knesset committee that “there are no doubts about the stability of the regime in Egypt” and that “the Muslim Brotherhood is not organized enough to take over”. Instead, Kochavi focused on political volatility in Lebanon; ironically, the latter now seems like an oasis of tranquility compared to the explosive state of Egyptian politics. If the Israelis, whose very concept of national security is inextricably linked with developments in Cairo, were so unsuspecting of the popular wave of anger against the thirty-year dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak, one can only imagine Washington’s surprise at the protests. Click here to read my article in Intelligent-Intelligence.com, a specialist publication edited by Kyle Cunliffe. Continue reading →

US paying ‘price in blood’ for Israel-Palestine conflict, say ex-CIA officers

Bruce Riedel

Bruce Riedel

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Two former CIA officers have warned that America will continue “paying an increasing price in blood” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and urged the White House to directly meddle in domestic Israeli politics in order to help end the dispute. Speaking on Thursday at a conference on achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace, Bruce Riedel and Frank Anderson, whose combined CIA careers span 55 years, agreed that a new all-out war between Israel and the Palestinians would be inevitable unless the United States aggressively “puts down its own map of a two-state solution”. Anderson, who is currently President at the Middle East Policy Council, opined that America is “paying an increasing price in blood for [the Israelis’ and the Palestinians’] failure and refusal to reach an agreement”. Riedel, who is Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, argued that “American lives are being lost today” due to the conflict’s impact on American national security. Read more of this post

Israel intel chief hints at role in Syrian nuclear facility bombing

Amos Yadlin

Amos Yadlin

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Israel’s outgoing senior military intelligence chief has implied that Israel had a role in a mystery 2007 bombing of an undisclosed Syrian government facility, which is widely believed to have been a nuclear reactor. Speaking on Tuesday before the Knesset’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense, Amos Yadlin, who heads Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate, referred to having overseen intelligence operations against two nuclear programs during his tenure. Delivering a public statement before the Committee, Yadlin noted that he had “been through two wars and [...] contended with two nuclear programs of enemy states”. Security observers consider this an indirect reference to Operation ORCHARD, the 2007 attack carried out by Israeli fighter jets in the night of September 6, 2007. The target location was Al-Kibar, a site deep in the Syro-Arabian Desert, twenty miles from Deir el-Zor. Neither Syria nor Israel have directly commented on the attack, which is widely thought to have targeted a Syrian nuclear reactor. Read more of this post

US considering CIA targeted killings in Yemen

Yemen

Yemen

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The White House is considering an unprecedented expansion of operations by the Central Intelligence Agency in Yemen, following last week’s foiled toner cartridge bomb plot. There are reports that the plot, which appears to have originated in Yemen, and was foiled through a last-minute tip from Saudi intelligence, may tip the balance in Washington in favor of those wishing to enhance the CIA’s activities in Yemen’s Sunni areas. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Obama Administration is close to authorizing the CIA’s use of unmanned drones to bomb suspected targets in Yemen, something that the Agency has been doing for over a year in Pakistan. But there also appears to be a wider consensus forming in favor of authorizing covert targeted killings inside Yemen by Special Forces operating on the ground under Langley’s command. This consensus appears to be forming in both civilian and military circles in Washington, despite fears that such tactics may backlash, leading to a severance of ties between the United States and the Yemeni government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Journal article mentions that the White House is now considering authorizing the CIA to conduct targeted killings “even without the explicit blessing of the Yemeni government”. Read more of this post

Experts see nation-state behind sophisticated computer virus attack

Ahmadinejad

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Computer forensics specialists are split as to the purpose and initial target of a sophisticated computer virus that infected computers used in the Iranian government’s nuclear energy program. The virus, named Stuxnet, was discovered in Iran in June by a Belarusian computer security firm doing business in the Islamic Republic. It has since infected at least 100,000 computer systems in countries such as Brazil, India, Russia and the United States. But the primary target of the virus appears to have been the Iranian nuclear energy program, specifically computers located at the Islamic Republic’s nuclear reactor facility in Bushehr and the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz. Several commentators, including Wired magazine, dispute the existence of any evidence pointing to a clear target inside Iran.  But Israeli media maintain that computers at Natanz were the primary target of Stuxnet, and that subsequent infections at computer labs at Bushehr were in fact an unintended side effect. Read more of this post

Emirates police says US, Israel, use BlackBerry to spy

Dahi Tamim

Dahi Tamim

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The alleged use of encrypted BlackBerry communications by adversary intelligence services operating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is prompting local authorities to consider a nationwide ban on the popular phone. This was revealed late last week by Dubai Police chief, Lt. General Dahi Khalfan bin Tamim, who repeated a warning by UAE authorities that BlackBerry services in the country will be curtailed on October 11, unless the government is given access to BlackBerry’s encryption code by the manufacturer. Several other countries in the Middle East and beyond have made similar moves, including Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, India and Indonesia, all of which have cited security reasons for the ban. But Lt. General Tamim’s comments provide the first known connection between a threat to ban BlackBerry and its alleged use by rival intelligence agencies. Read more of this post

Iran factory blast coincides with reported bomb attack on Ahmadinejad

Ahmadinejad

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Official Iranian denials of an alleged bomb attack on the life of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday have been followed by reports of a simultaneous attack on a state-of-the-art Iranian petrochemicals complex. Specifically, on August 4, Reuters news agency cited an Iranian “presidential office source” in reporting a strong blast “500 meters from Ahmadinejad’s motorcade”. The blast, which Reuters attributed to either a hand grenade or a homemade explosive device, occurred as the Iranian President was being transported from the regional airport of Hamadan, in western Iran, to the city’s sports complex, where he was scheduled to deliver a speech. Reuters’ unnamed source said the President escaped unhurt, but subsequent reports indicated that several other passengers on the motorcade were injured. Interestingly, President Ahmadinejad’s office initially appeared to confirm the assassination attempt, but soon afterwards official state news agency IRNA attributed the blast on “an excited young man from Hamadan [who] exploded a firecracker in order to express his happiness”. Read more of this post

Iran has as many as 40,000 spies in Arab world, says defector

Al Arabiya logo

Al Arabiya logo

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
An alleged former Iranian spy, who defected several years ago, claims that the Islamic Republic has “as many as 40,000” covert operatives in the Persian Gulf. The alleged defector spoke anonymously to al-Arabiya, a Saudi-owned pan-Arabic television network based in the United Arab Emirates. He told his interviewer that the activities of the undercover operatives are coordinated by the Iranian military’s Revolutionary Guards unit. Among other revelations, the unidentified defector said that Iranian spy cells tend to work in groups of five and operate independently, usually unaware of the operations or even existence of other nearby cells. Read more of this post

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