Israel spy agency has presence in Syria, says senior rebel general

Regional map of SyriaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Israel is one of several countries that maintain a significant intelligence presence inside Syria, according to the top commander of the Syrian rebel forces. General Salim Idriss, Chief of Staff for the Free Syrian Army, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the Jewish state has “many, many” intelligence officers in various parts of Syria. The Arab country has been rocked since 2011 by a violent civil war, which has cost the lives of at least 60,000 people. Idriss was responding to comments made earlier this week by Brigadier General Itai Brun, senior intelligence analyst for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Brun, who heads the Division for Research and Analysis of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, was speaking at a conference hosted in Tel Aviv, Israel, by the Institute for National Security Studies. He told an audience of intelligence experts that the IDF was “quite certain” that the Syrian government headed by President Bashar al-Assad had resorted to the use of chemical weapons against rebel forces on at least one instance. According to Brun, footage obtained by the IDF of rebel casualties from a March 19 attack by Syrian government forces, pointed to the use of sarin nerve gas. He referred to evidence such as the victims’ dilated pupils and “the foam coming out of their mouths” as strong proof of the use of weaponized sarin nerve gas in the battlefield. Responding to Brun’s allegations, General Idriss suggested that Syrian government forces had used chemical weapons repeatedly in a variety of locations, including Aleppo, Homs, and the outskirts of capital Damascus. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #783

Uri SaguyBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Israeli ex-intel chief says warns of ‘hysteria’ over Iran. Major General Uri Saguy (a.k.a. Uri Sagi), who was head of the IDF’s Operations Directorate during the 1982 Lebanon war, and Military Intelligence chief from 1991 to 1995, has warned of an “orchestrated and purposely timed hysteria that puts the country into a state of anxiety, artificial or not”, regarding the Iranian nuclear issue. Saguy, who resigned from the IDF in 1995 due to a conflict between him and the Chief of General Staff, added that “it would be a mistake if Israel uses force, certainly now, in order to thwart the Iranian nuclear potential”. The essence of Saguy’s message, notes Ha’aretz‘s Amir Oren, is that Israel’s citizens cannot trust Defense Minister Ehud Barak or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
►►Australian spy chief warns of economic espionage. The director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, David Irvine, has warned that the online revolution has left Australian companies increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks and commercial espionage. Speaking to a business audience in Canberra, Irvine said that most online attacks in the business world go undetected, despite growing awareness of the threat. Asked how much commercial cyber crime went undetected, he said: “I would be very surprised if we who are active in this area are picking up the greater proportion of it, in fact, quite the reverse”.
►►Top US military official objects to attack on Iran. As Israeli officials are telling local reporters that they’re really, really ready to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, and they mean it this time, the top US military officer is saying what a terrible idea that would be. “I may not know about all of [Israel's] capabilities”, said General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “But I think that it’s a fair characterization to say that they could delay but not destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities”. Left unsaid: in a few years, the US and Israel would be back to the same standoff with Iran —except this time it might do so amidst a proxy terrorist war to avenge the Iranians.

Israeli intelligence insiders warn of ‘imminent’ attack on Iran

Efraim HalevyBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
If Iranian government officials had a uranium centrifuge for each time a warning is issued of an impending military attack on Tehran, they would undoubtedly have a nuclear weapon by now. Warnings about such an attack are now ‘a-dime-a-dozen’. Yet it is admittedly difficult to ignore the increasing frequency with which such warnings are being issued by leading retired intelligence officials in Israel. Last week alone, two intelligence insiders, Major-General Danny Yatom and Efraim Halevy, both former Directors of the Mossad, Israel’s main external intelligence agency, said a military attack on Iran was imminent. Speaking on Wednesday, Halevy said that Israel’s threats of a military attack were “credible” and “serious”, adding that, if he were an Iranian, he would be “very fearful of the next 12 weeks”. His comments were echoed on Sunday by Major-General Yatom, who told Israel’s Army Radio that the debate among senior Israeli security officials was not over whether Israel should strike Iran, but about when it should do so. The two men spoke shortly after a similar warning was issued by Major-General Aharon Ze’evi Farkash, former chief of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate. Farkash, who is not a proponent of an all-out military operation against Iran, said that an Israeli attack would probably come “within weeks, or a couple of months”. It is worth pointing out that all three men issued their public warnings along with significant reservations about the way Israel is handing the situation with Iran. Halevy said that, in his view, “it would not be desirable for Israel to act alone” against Iran and warned of a potentially serious international backlash. Major-General Farkash reiterated his previously stated position that an open military attack on Iran at this point in time would be premature and would “ruin the legitimacy that is needed” in order to permanently stop Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #651

Chris VanekerBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Israel defense minister forbids spy official’s lecture. Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak has refused to allow the head of research for Military Intelligence, Brigadier General Itai Baron, to lecture at the annual conference of Israel’s ambassadors unless the lecture is deemed ‘unclassified’. The conference deals with diplomatic and security issues and public affairs, and the lectures are given by senior Israeli government and military officials.
►►CIA agrees to look into OSINT FOIA request. Open Source Works, which is the CIA’s in-house open source analysis component, is devoted to intelligence analysis of unclassified, open source information. Oddly enough, the directive that established Open Source Works is classified. But in an abrupt reversal, the CIA said that it will process a Freedom of Information Act request by intelligence historian Jeffrey Richelson for documents pertaining to Open Source Works.
►►Dutch former pilot convicted of espionage. A court in The Hague has sentenced former F-16 pilot Chris Vaneker to five years in jail after finding him guilty of selling state secrets to a Russian diplomat. Vaneker wanted half-a-million euros for the information he was trying to sell to the military attaché at the Russian embassy in The Hague. The pilot and the Russian diplomat were arrested in March.

New Israel intelligence unit spies on Western leftwing groups

Israel, Palestine

Israel, Palestine

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Israel’s Military Intelligence has set up a new unit tasked with infiltrating and monitoring Western leftwing organizations that criticize Israel’s policies on the Palestinians. The unit, whose name remains unknown, was reportedly established earlier this year by the research division of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate (MID). It has been given the sole task of targeting Western groups that routinely criticize Israeli policies, campaign for economic boycott or divestiture from Israel, and try to bring war crime charges against senior Israeli government officials. Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz quotes “senior Israeli officials and [MID] officers” who claim that these worldwide campaigns “delegitimize Israel and question its right to exist”. They also suggest that there are links between organizations lobbying worldwide against Israel’s policies on the Palestinians and “terror groups”. The paper reports that the new unit was set up in the wake of the official Israeli investigation into the bloody events of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in June of 2010, when Israeli commandos killed eight Turkish and one American citizen in international waters. Read more of this post

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 →

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

Malaysia to investigate alleged Israeli spy infiltration

Anwar Ibrahim

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Malaysian government has ordered an investigation into claims by a prominent opposition leader that Israeli spies, posing as communications technicians, infiltrated the headquarters of the country’s national police. Anwar Ibrahim, leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party), told the Malaysian parliament on April 4 that he was in possession of police documents confirming the infiltration. According to Anwar’s allegations, two former officers of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate were able to enter the head office of Malaysia’s national police, acting as representatives of a private communications technology contractor. While there, Anwar said, they were able to access the police’s communications network. Read more of this post

Lebanese officials claim arrest of Israeli spy

By IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star quotes unnamed official sources who report the arrest of an alleged Israeli spy in the southern Lebanese city of Nabatiyeh. The arrestee has been identified as Kamal Faqih, a Lebaneze citizen who lived for several years in France before returning to Lebanon to work in the oil retail industry. Lebanese security sources claim Faqih was recruited either by Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate, or by Mossad, fifteen years ago while living in France. It is thought that Hezbollah, the Shia Islamic political and paramilitary organization that controls large parts of Lebanon, was initially alerted to Faqih’s “suspicious behavior” during the July 2006 Israel-Lebanon war. Read more of this post

Official history of Israeli spy services acknowledges US spying against Israel

American espionage conducted against Israel is hardly news. It is rare, however, that such operations –which are routine in nature– are acknowledged in official histories of intelligence institutions. Yet this is exactly what will happen this coming January, when a new official history of Israel’s intelligence services is published in Israel. Read more of this post

Israeli military intelligence chief wants dialogue with Iran

The Bush Administration continues to equate dialogue with its perceived enemies with appeasement. Yet even the Israelis are now showing signs of abandoning this policy. Earlier today the head of Israel’s military intelligence, Major General Amos Yadlin, stated that he was “not opposed to direct talks between Iran and the United States”, because “dialogue is not appeasement”. He also expressed the elementary diplomatic axiom that the spectacular drop in oil prices has rendered Iran “very susceptible to international pressure”. Yadlin also described Barack Obama’s capture of the US Presidency as having been received “with a sigh of relief in the Middle East, with cautious hope for peace”. So much for hawkish Israeli hardliners who are said to have hijacked US foreign policy toward Iran. [JF]

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