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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Did French intelligence agent kill Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi?

Nicolas Sarkozy and Muammar GaddafiBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Nearly a year after the sensational death of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, sources in Libya have claimed that a French intelligence agent killed the Libyan leader acting under orders by the French government. The Libyan dictator was captured by armed fighters of the Libyan National Liberation Army on October 20, 2011, after his convoy was reportedly bombed by North Atlantic Treaty Organization aircraft. Videos showed Gaddafi being taken aboard a van alive; mysteriously, however, he was pronounced dead a few hours later. The Libyan National Transitional Council blamed the Libyan leader’s death on overzealous militia members, but this explanation did not satisfy the United Nations, which called for an investigation into the incident. But Mahmoud Jibril, a National Transitional Council member who was Libya’s interim Prime Minister during most of 2011, has said in an interview that Gaddafi was killed by a French intelligence officer. Speaking yesterday on Egyptian television, Jibril said that the agent “mixed with the revolutionary brigades” and killed Gaddafi by shooting him twice in the head from close range. Jibril’s comments came two days after one of Italy’s most reputable newspapers, Corriere della Sera, published a report claiming that the alleged French intelligence agent was acting under direct instructions by the French government. The paper said that the order had come down from the office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. According to the article, Sarkozy was eager to prevent the possibility of Gaddafi standing trial, particularly after the Libyan leader had threatened to expose his alleged financial dealings with the French President. These refer to persistent rumors in France that the Libyan dictator had contributed millions of dollars to Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #695

Nicolas Sarkozy and Muammar GaddafiBy IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
►►Spies meet over Syrian crisis. CIA chief David Petraeus met Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday for closed-door talks focusing on the crisis across the border in Syria. Meanwhile, General Murad Muwafi, who heads Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate, left Cairo on Tuesday for a visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Also, US General Ronald Burgess, Defense Intelligence Agency Director, has arrived in Egypt and is expected to meet with several Egyptian officials to discuss the situation in Syria.
►►Gaddafi contributed €50m to Sarkozy election fund. Damaging new claims have emerged about the funding of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign and his links with former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The French investigative website Mediapart claims to have seen a confidential note suggesting Gaddafi contributed up to €50 million to Sarkozy’s election fund five years ago.
►►Analysis: US relations on the agenda for Pakistan’s new spy chief. Yusuf Raza Gilani has appointed Lieutenant General Zahir ul-Islam as the new chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, the main spy arm of the Pakistani military, ending weeks of speculation he would extend the term of Lieutenant Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, due to retire on March 18. The new spymaster faces a tough task fixing ever-worsening ties with the United States, but analysts say he is unlikely to reform an institution accused of helping militants in Afghanistan.

News you may have missed #671

Pablo Neruda (right) and Salvador AllendeBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►German ‘spies’ detained in Pakistan. Three alleged German spies have been detained in Pakistan by police and released to German diplomats, according to reports. The men were detained last Saturday in the northeastern city of Peshawar by officers who accused them of belonging to “an unauthorized liaison office of the German embassy”. A Pakistani official said counterintelligence authorities had been observing the three Germans “for months”.
►►Was poet Pablo Neruda murdered? Pablo Neruda, Chile’s Nobel Prize-winning poet, died exactly 12 days after the brutal coup that ended the life of his close friend, socialist President Salvador Allende. The official version was that he died of natural causes brought on by the trauma of witnessing the coup and the lethal persecution of many of his friends. But now Neruda’s body might be exhumed for testing to address long-simmering suspicions that the poet was poisoned.
►►Britain’s secret mission to beat Gaddafi. British efforts to help Libyan rebels topple Colonel Gaddafi were not limited to air strikes. On the ground –and on the quiet– British special forces soldiers were blending in with rebel fighters. The BBC’s Newsnight program has produced a report on the subject. The report includes information on E Squadron, which has not hitherto been discussed publicly. It was formed in 2007 to work closely with MI6, and is mainly involved in missions “where maximum discretion is required”.

News you may have missed #630

Riad Al Assad

Riad al-Assad

►►Senior Syrian military defector in Turkey denies training troops. Colonel Riad al-Assad, who acts as head of Syria’s military defectors, has denied a news report that he crossed the border from Turkey to Syria to command troops loyal to the opposition force called the Free Syrian Army. “News reports that appeared on a number of Internet sites that I had crossed into Syria to command troops there are false. I am in Turkey at the moment, in a safe place,” he told the Turkey’s Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
►►Iran says missile base blast was not caused by Mossad. Iran has insisted that last weekend’s huge blast at the Alghadir missile base at Bid Ganeh, 30 miles to the west of Tehran, was not carried out by Israel or the US, despite widespread reports that it was the work of the Israeli secret service, the Mossad. The explosion killed 17 of the country’s elite revolutionary guards, including Major General Hassan Moqqadam, a senior commander described as the pioneer of the regime’s missile programme.
►►British official says MI6 foiled Libyan assassination plan. British intelligence foiled a plot by Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi’s forces to assassinate Western diplomats and Libya’s revolutionary leadership, Britain’s Foreign Secretary has disclosed. In a rare speech about the secret services, William Hague said the Libyan intelligence service launched a “sustained effort” to conduct suicide and car bomb attacks against the National Transitional Council, but that “the attacks were prevented”.

Were British-funded mercenaries protecting Gaddafi in his final moments?

Muammar al-Gaddafi

Gaddafi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The South African intelligence services are reportedly investigating reports that a British security company was providing protection for Muammar al-Gaddafi when he was killed by rebels. On October 20, the Libyan leader and his armed entourage were traveling from his hometown of Sirte toward the Libya-Niger border, when they were hit by NATO missiles. Colonel Gaddafi was later captured and lynched by armed rebels loyal to Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC). But British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reports that an unnamed British security company was paid millions of dollars by the Libyan leader to smuggle him out of Sirte and into Niger. According to The Telegraph, the company is now under investigation by South African authorities, because one of its agents, a woman based in Kenya, allegedly recruited at least 19 South African mercenaries for the operation to exfiltrate Gaddafi from Libya. The 19 joined a group of approximately 50 mercenaries, who were sent to Libya and were with the Libyan leader when he was captured by the NTC rebels on October 20. The paper says that several members of the mercenary group were former associates of Simon Mann, a British former Special Forces (SAS) officer who was arrested in Zimbabwe in 2004 while planning a coup against Teodoro Obiang, longtime dictator of energy-rich Equatorial Guinea. The Telegraph article quotes Danie Odendaal, a former member of South Africa’s apartheid-era security services, who claims he was among Gaddafi’s armed entourage during his capture on October 20. Odendaal claims that many South Africans were injured and at least two were killed along with Gaddafi. Read more of this post

CIA Helped Gaddafi Torture Libyan Dissidents, Documents Show

Abdel Hakim Belhaj

Abdel Belhaj

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Back in February, when Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi blamed the popular revolt against him on al-Qaeda, he was ridiculed in the international media. But documents discovered at an abandoned Libyan government office complex show that the Libyan rebels’ supreme military commander was abducted in 2004 by the CIA, which suspected him of links to al-Qaeda. Abdel Hakim Belhaj, also known as Abdullah al-Sadiq, was snatched by a CIA team in Malaysia, and secretly transported to Thailand, where he says he was “directly tortured by CIA agents”. The CIA then renditioned him to Libya, where he says he was tortured routinely until his release from prison, in 2010. In the 1980s, Belhaj was a member of the foreign Mujahedeen summoned by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Upon returning to Libya in the early 1990s, he led the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an al-Qaeda-inspired armed organization that unsuccessfully sought to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi. Ironically, Belhaj is now the Tripoli-based military commander of the Libyan National Transitional Council, and says that he wants a full apology from the United States and Britain “for the way he was transported to prison in Libya in 2004”. But the former Mujahedeen is one of several terrorism suspects delivered to Libya by Western intelligence agencies in the years after 9/11, according to Libyan government documents discovered by Human Rights Watch (HRW) workers at the office of Libyan former intelligence chief and foreign minister Moussa Koussa. The documents show that Libya’s External Security Organization maintained extremely close relations with German, Canadian, British, and American intelligence services. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #583

Chiou I-jen

Chiou I-jen

►►Ex-Akamai worker pleads guilty to spy charge. Elliot Doxer, an American employee of Massachusetts-based Akamai Technologies, is charged with providing inside company information to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli spy. Ironically, Israel may have helped the Bureau nab Doxer.
►►Taiwan ex-spy cleared of corruption charge. Chiou I-jen, Taiwan’s ex-spy chief and right-hand man of jailed former president Chen Shui-bian, was cleared Tuesday of embezzling diplomatic funds during Chen’s term in office. The former head of the National Security Bureau, was acquitted of pocketing $500,000 –earmarked for expanding Taiwan’s participation in international affairs– in 2005, due to a lack of evidence.
►►Wiretaps seen as key in hunt for Gaddafi. “There are some groups who are looking for him and also trying to listen to his calls. Of course he doesn’t use the phone, but we know the people around him who use the phones”. This is according to Hisham Buhagiar, a senior military official in Libya’s National Transitional Council, who is coordinating efforts to find Muammar al-Gaddafi.

News you may have missed #582

John Yoo

John Yoo

►►US government conceals Bush surveillance memos. The Justice Department is refusing to release legal memos by lawyer John Yoo, which the George W. Bush administration used to justify its warrantless surveillance program, one of the most contentious civil liberties issues during the Republican president’s time in office.
►►Ex-CIA bin Laden Unit boss wants rendition back. Michael Scheuer, a former insider and vocal critic of the US intelligence establishment, has described the Arab revolutions as “an intelligence disaster for the US and for Britain, and other European services”. Speaking from Scotland, he also urged for a return to the Bush administration’s rendition program, in order to gather new intelligence on Middle Eastern and North African groups.
►►French firm helped Gaddafi spy on opposition. We have written before about technical intelligence support provided by Western firms to some of the world’s most brutal regimes, including Iran and Bahrain. We can no add Libya to the long list. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amesys, a subsidiary of French telecommunications firm Bull helped the Gaddafi regime spy on the emails and chat messages of its opponents.

Was French mercenary a ‘spy for Gaddafi’?

Pierre Marziali

Pierre Marziali

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Back in May of 2011, The New York Times reported that the co-founder of one of France’s largest private security firms had been shot dead in rebel-held Benghazi. His name was Pierre Marziali, a former paratrooper, who in 2003 co-founded Secopex, described as France’s leading private security company. At first, the rebels blamed his death on “gangs that the old regime used”. But a few days later, a press release by the rebel National Transitional Council alleged that the dead Frenchman had been shot because he was among several French “spies hired by the Gaddafi regime”. The story gets murkier when one considers that, according to the Times, Marziali had gone to Libya “on a mission which, I believe, had been ordered by France”. This should not surprise anyone. As intelNews reported on August 23, Western governments have instructed Libya’s rebel authority to use Western-supplied funds to hire Western-based mercenary companies; this ensures plausible deniability on the part of the rebels’ Western allies, while allowing them to engage with boots on the ground outside the NATO command structure. But why would members of a private security firm based in France —a country that supports the Libyan opposition— be spying for Muammar al-Gaddafi? The case of Marziali’s death shows that not everything is what it seems in Libya. Nobody seems to have information about Secopex’s precise operational mission in the North African nation. But, according to Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog, it appears that the Libyan rebels tried to apprehend Marziali and four other Frenchmen employees of Secopex, after noticing that their passports had Libyan entry stamps from Tripoli —an indication that they had entered the country with the blessings of the Gaddafi regime. Read more of this post

Why Are Armed Groups Storming Foreign Embassies in Tripoli?

The new Libyan flag

New Libyan flag

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
It is perhaps understandable that fighters of the National Transitional Council, Libya’s rebel umbrella group, have stormed locations in Tripoli that are associated with the regime of deposed Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. Strategic sites such as  Bab al-Aziziya, Gaddafi’s compound, government ministries, or even houses belonging to Gaddafi’s large and powerful family, may be deemed legitimate targets. But why are the rebels also selectively attacking foreign embassies in the Libyan capital? According to Yonhap, South Korea’s state-run news agency, the South Korean embassy in Tripoli was “attacked [...] by an armed gang” of about 30 people late on Tuesday. The report, which could not be immediately confirmed by the Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, cited anonymous sources, who said that embassy staff were “threatened at gunpoint”. At roughly the same period, another group of “armed persons” stormed the building of the Bulgarian embassy, according to the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which said that it had yet to clarify “the circumstances around the incident”. On Wednesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that armed groups had “assaulted and totally looted” the Venezuelan embassy. A few hours later, the Venezuelan Ambassador to Libya, Afif Tajeldine, clarified that the attack took place at his official residence, which is located about 9 miles from the Venezuelan embassy. He told El Universal that armed groups broke into the ambassadorial residence and “searched the house asking for me”. They then “ransacked the house completely” and “left nothing in the house”. Read more of this post

Hundreds of European mercenaries ‘fighting for Gaddafi’

Libya

Libya

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Hundreds of European mercenaries, including large numbers of European Union citizens, have voluntarily enrolled in the armed forces of the Libyan government, and are fighting under the command of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi. According to criminologist Michel Koutouzis, the Greek CEO of a French-registered consulting firm with connections to Libya, up to 500 European soldiers-of-fortune have been hired by the Libyan government to provide “special services”, particularly in heavy weaponry and attack helicopters. Koutouzis says that most of the European mercenaries, who sell their services for thousands of dollars a day, come from Eastern Europe, especially Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Serbia, but there are also French, British and Greek nationals currently in Libya. He also claims that Gaddafi is supported by serving military personnel from Russia, Syria and Algeria. It is believed that the Gaddafi camp is also employing thousands of non-specialist mercenaries from various African nations, including Somalia, Mali, Niger, Chad, and the Central African Republic. Unconfirmed reports have surfaced in the American press that the Gaddafi forces are employing female snipers from Colombia. Read more of this post

Suspicion mounts as US unlocks Moussa Koussa’s foreign assets

Moussa Koussa

Moussa Koussa

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Eyebrows were raised in intelligence circles on Monday, after the United States lifted its freeze of foreign assets belonging to Libya’s former intelligence chief, who defected to London last week. Libya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Moussa Koussa, who headed the country’s intelligence agency from 1994 to 2009, managed to escape to the UK from Tunisia on a Swiss-registered private airplane. He is currently reported to be in an MI6 safe house in England, allegedly being interrogated about his inside knowledge of the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi. But Koussa is also thought to be the mastermind behind the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed nearly 300 people. The 57-year-old defector is also believed to have facilitated Libya’s funding of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and to have authorized the assassination of several Libyan dissidents living in Britain. In light of that, the news that Washington lifted its sanctions on Koussa’s sizeable fortune abroad is worth noting. It is also interesting to note that Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, is reportedly pressuring European Union member-states to follow the US’ example in also unfreezing Koussa’s foreign assets. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #485

  • Gaza engineer describes abduction my Mossad. Dirar Abu Sissi, who was abducted by Israeli spy agency Mossad from the Ukraine on February 19, has described details of his abduction in a report issued Monday by the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
  • Gaddafi regime fed names of jihadists to the CIA and MI6. Diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks paint eastern Libya as a fertile ground for radical extremism. One source told US officials in 2008 that for young men from Derna, a city east of Benghazi, “resistance against coalition forces in Iraq was an important act of ‘jihad’ and a last act of defiance against the Gaddafi regime”.
  • Investigators say secret CIA files could aid Chile. Chile’s truth commission has determined that 3,065 opponents of US-supported Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet were killed in the 1970s. Most of these cases were investigated, and some 600 military figures and civilian collaborators have been put on trial. Now campaigners are trying to get the CIA to open its files on Pinochet.
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