CIA operative who defected to Cuba resurfaces in British film

Frank TerpilBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
An operative of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, who defected to Cuba in 1981 to avoid charges of criminal conspiracy, has reemerged in a British documentary film about the late Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi. Frank Terpil, 74, resigned from the CIA in 1970, allegedly after he was caught running a pyramid scheme in India, where he had been posted by the CIA. Soon after his forced resignation from the Agency, US federal prosecutors leveled criminal charges on Terpil and his business partner. The former CIA operative was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder, after it was found that he had helped facilitate the illegal transfer of over 20 tons of plastic explosives to the government of Libya. Terpil managed to leave the US and reappeared in Lebanon in 1980, shortly before a court in New York sentenced him in absentia to five decades in prison for conspiring to smuggle 10,000 submachine guns to African warlords, including Uganda’s dictator Idi Amin. As agents of various countries started to zero in on Terpil’s Lebanon hideout, he disappeared again and resurfaced in 1981 in Havana, Cuba. Shortly afterwards, Cuba’s General Intelligence Directorate hired him as an operative under the operational alias CURIEL. Since that time, Terpil has been repeatedly mentioned as having played a part in Cuban intelligence operations around the world, but has rarely given interviews. He resurfaced again this month, however, in a documentary entitled “Mad Dog: Inside the Secret World of Muammar Gaddafi”. The film was made by British company Fresh One Productions on behalf of Showtime, an American premium cable and satellite television network. The film’s co-producer, Michael Chrisman, told news agencies that Terpil was interviewed “at his home” in Cuban capital Havana, where he apparently still lives, along with his “much younger” Cuban girlfriend. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #824 (India edition)

Tony MendezBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►CIA honed ARGO exfiltration skills in India. The Oscar-winning movie Argo has popularized the 1980 exfiltration by the CIA of a group of American diplomats from Tehran. But few know that Tony Mendez, the CIA officer in charge of the Iran operation, cut his teeth exfiltrating CIA targets in India. In his book, titled Argo, Mendez mentions the 1970 exfiltration of a Soviet defector in India codenamed Nestor. He claims that Nestor was a “huge catch” for the CIA, as he provided the Agency with “invaluable intelligence on the KGB’s operations in Central and Southeast Asia”.
►►Ex-CIA officer says al-Qaeda wanted India-Pakistan nuclear war. In his latest book, Avoiding Armageddon: America, India, and Pakistan to the Brink and Back, former CIA officer Bruce Riedel says al-Qaeda helped plan the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Its goal was to “spark a nuclear war between India and Pakistan in order to polarize the world between Islam and the ‘Crusader-Zionist-Hindu’ conspiracy”. But the group’s plan was hampered by India’s restraint and refusal to strike back using force, he argues.
►►Man passing defense info to Pakistan held in India. Reports suggest that Sumer Khan, 34, from Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district, has been arrested for sending strategic information to Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency via emails and mobile calls for the past three years. A source said that Khan was caught after his calls to Pakistan were intercepted by Indian military intelligence and Intelligence Bureau. The arrest comes just two days after the conclusion of India’s biggest-ever air exercise, ‘Iron Fist’, in Jaisalmer.

News you may have missed #820

H. Keith MeltonBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►World’s best known spy collector displays his home. And now for something completely different. Most intelNews readers will be aware of H. Keith Melton, the author of more than 25 nonfiction works on espionage (including The Ultimate Spy Book) and the world’s largest private collector of spy memorabilia. The question is, where does he keep all this stuff? The 68-year-old author invited Forbes magazine to his Boca Raton house, which includes his two-story private spy museum. The article is here, a photo gallery here, and a video of the house (but not the museum) is here.
►►Acting CIA director criticizes ‘Zero Dark Thirty’. IntelNews has ignored the commentary that has flooded the Web about Zero Dark Thirty, the feature film fictional account of the assassination of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. But when the Director of CIA, the agency behind the real-life operation to kill bin Laden, publicly comments, it is time to pay attention. Michael J. Morell, who took over as CIA Director from General David Petraeus last month, has criticized the film, saying it exaggerates the role of coercive interrogations in producing clues to bin Laden’s whereabouts.
►►British police says MI6 expert ‘killed himself’. British police say MI6 cryptology expert Gareth Williams, who was found dead inside a sports bag in August 2010, probably locked himself into the sports bag, where his naked body was found, and was not the victim of a hit by the security services. Williams, 31, worked for Britain’s secret eavesdropping service GCHQ but was attached to MI6 when his remains were found inside the bag in a bathtub at his London apartment.

News you may have missed #818 (USA edition)

Osama bin LadenBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►The real-life female CIA officer who helped track bin Laden. The Washington Post has a good article on the real-life career of a female CIA officer who helped the Agency track al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. It is disappointing, however that the article, authored by Greg Miller and Toby Warrick, is headlined “In Zero Dark Thirty she’s the hero; in real life, CIA agent’s career is more complicated”. The CIA employee in question is not an “agent”; she is an officer. In the CIA, agents are assets, people recruited and handled by CIA officers. Amazing that The Post, with its experienced journalists and editors would confuse such a basic operational distinction.
►►US spy agencies to detail cyber-attacks from abroad. The US intelligence community is nearing completion of its first detailed review of cyber-spying against American targets from abroad, including an attempt to calculate US financial losses from hacker attacks based in China. The National Intelligence Estimate, the first involving cyber-espionage, will also seek to determine how large a role the Chinese government plays in directing or coordinating digital attacks aimed at stealing US intellectual property, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a classified undertaking.
►►CIA begins LGBT recruiting. As part of the CIA’s efforts to diversify its workforce, the spy agency is reaching out to a group that once was unable to get security clearance: lesbians and gay men. CIA officials have held a networking event for the Miami gay community sponsored by the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the CIA. “This is the first time we’ve done a networking event of this type with any of the gay and lesbian chamber of commerces in the United States,” says Michael Barber, a self-identified “straight ally” and the spy agency’s LGBT Community Outreach and Liaison program manager.

News you may have missed #740

Timo KivimäkiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Denmark professor accused of spying challenges court secrecy. Timo Kivimäki, a Finnish humanities professor at the University of Copenhagen, is accused of spying for the Russians and is being tried at the city court in the Danish city of Glostrup behind closed doors, meaning no information about the trial, including the precise charges, can be disseminated. But following demands from both Kivimäki’s lawyer and the Danish media, he has been granted permission to appeal against the decision to hold the trial in secret.
►►Analysis: CIA’s links with Hollywood are longstanding. Some US officials are suggesting that the producers of a new motion picture, which deals with the raid that killed al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, received “extremely close, unprecedented and potentially dangerous collaboration” from the Obama administration, and particularly the US Intelligence Community. In light of this, a well-researched article in The Los Angeles Times reminds readers that the close connection between the movie industry and the US military and intelligence community goes back decades. The US military has been using movies to drive up recruitment since the 1920s; and the CIA these days even posts potential movie story lines on its website.
►►CIA funds helped launch literary journal. The Paris Review has been hailed by Time magazine as the “biggest ‘little magazine’ in history”. At the celebration of its 200th issue this spring, current editors and board members ran down the roster of literary heavyweights it helped launch since its first issue in 1953. Philip Roth, V. S. Naipaul, T.C. Boyle, Edward P. Jones and Rick Moody published their first stories in The Review; Jack Kerouac, Jim Carroll, Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides all had important early stories in its pages. But as American novelist Peter Matthiessen has told interviewers –most recently at Penn State– the journal also began as part of his CIA cover.

News you may have missed #560 (new books edition)

Khalil al-Balawi

Khalil al-Balawi

►►New book on CIA’s Khost bomb disaster. Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick has authored a new book, examining the December 31, 2009, killing of seven CIA operatives by Jordanian doctor Humam Khalil al-Balawi in Khost, Afghanistan. In the book, entitled The Triple Agent, Warrick quotes several “anonymous” sources from within CIA and Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID), which was involved in running al-Balawi. Aside from blaming GID, Warrick says the CIA’s Amman station chief was partly responsible for the botched operation.
►►Hollywood producer was Mossad spy, says new book. The book Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan, says that Milchan was a full-fledged operative for Israel’s now-defunct intelligence agency, Lakam. The agency, which was also known as Israel’s Bureau of Scientific Relations, collected scientific and technical intelligence abroad. It was disbanded in 1986 following the arrest of US Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard for engaging in espionage on behalf of Israel. The book’s authors, Meir Doron and Joseph Gelman, argue that Milchan, who produced such movies as Love and Other Drugs and Knight and Day, worked for Israeli intelligence by supervising government-backed accounts and front companies that financed “the special needs of the entirety of Israel’s intelligence operations outside the country”.
►►Book alleges US-Russian spy swap deal. In 2010 the CIA considered a swap deal that would have delivered to Moscow two Americans currently imprisoned in the US for spying for Russia. This information is included Read more of this post

News you may have missed #492 (history edition)

  • Holocaust spy’s memoir gets movie treatment. The extraordinary memoir of Jan Karski, a Polish resistance fighter who gave the first eyewitness report on the Holocaust to the Allies, is to be made into a film by the producer of The King’s Speech. In 1943, Karski escaped from Nazi-occupied Poland and went to London with a hidden microfilm, revealing the persecution of Europe’s Jews by the Third Reich.
  • British spy files shed light on Nazi saboteurs in the US. Declassified British intelligence files describe the activities of Nazi sabotage teams sent to the US in June 1942 to undermine the American war effort. A detailed new account of the German mission, code-named Pastorius, is provided in a report written in 1943 by MI5 intelligence officer Victor Rosthchild.
  • New information on Evdokia Petrova’s defection. New information has emerged on the 1954 defection to Australia of Evdokia Petrova, wife of Vladimir Petrov, who was the most senior Soviet intelligence official to have defected to the West until that time.

News you may have missed #443

  • First budget cuts in a decade for UK spy agencies. Spending on Britain’s intelligence agencies is set to fall by 7%, for the first time in more than a decade. This is be expected to force MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to cap staff numbers, merge some of their operations, and scrap plans to modernize some of their buildings. Looks like even more British spies will be moving to Australia.
  • South Koreans arrested for trying to defect to North. Three South Koreans, including a medical doctor, are being investigated after allegedly trying to defect to North Korea from China. It is extremely unusual for South Koreans or other nationals to attempt to defect to the North.
  • Plame calls Fair Game movie ‘accurate portrayal’. CIA agent Valerie Plame has said the movie Fair Game, based on her book, is a “really good, accurate portrayal of what we went through, both personally and in the political maelstrom that we live through”. The Bush administration was accused of blowing Plame’s cover as retaliation after her diplomat husband openly challenged the reasoning behind the Iraq War.

News you may have missed #296

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News you may have missed #0265

  • Plans for motion picture on life of famous Israeli spy. A US production company plans to make a feature motion picture about the life of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, who operated in Damascus in the 1960s until he was executed in 1965. Cohen is known as the greatest Israeli spy of all time. He penetrated Syria’s power hubs and rose through the ranks to become part of the country’s ruling establishment.
  • CIA report ‘a declaration of war’, says Venezuela. President Hugo Chávez said on Wednesday that the latest entry for Venezuela in the CIA World Factbook represents a declaration of war on his country. The CIA publication describes Chávez’s government as an administration that “purports to alleviate social ills while at the same time attacking globalization and undermining regional stability”.

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