News you may have missed #546

Thomas Drake

Thomas Drake

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Whistleblower says NSA mismanagement continues. Former US National Security Agency employee Thomas Drake was recently sentenced to a year’s probation for leaking secrets about the agency to a journalist. The presiding judge did not sentence him to prison, recognizing that his genuine intention was to expose mismanagement. Soon after his sentencing, Drake told The Washington Times that mismanagement continues at the NSA, which he compared to “the Enron of the intelligence world”. He also told the paper that NSA’s accounts were “unauditable”, like those of most of the other agencies operating under the Pentagon. ►►Taliban claim phones hacked by NATO. The Afghan Taliban have accused NATO and the CIA of hacking pro-Taliban websites, as well as personal email accounts and cell phones belonging to Taliban leaders, in order to send out a false message saying that their leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had died. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the Reuters news agency that the hacking was “the work of American intelligence” and that the Taliban would “take revenge on the telephone network providers”. ►►Rumsfeld memo says ‘US can’t keep a secret’. “The United States Government is incapable of keeping a secret”. This was opined in a November 2, 2005 memo authored by Donald Rumsfeld. The memo by the then-Defense Secretary continues: Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #340

  • West Bank urged to drop Israeli cell phone companies. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is urging Palestinians to stop using the Israeli cellular companies Pelephone, Orange, Cellcom and Mirs. The official reasons are economic (Israeli companies don’t pay taxes to the PA), but the real reasons are probably related to communications security.
  • US police wiretaps up 26 percent in one year. The number of wiretaps authorized by US state and federal judges in criminal investigations jumped 26 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to a report released Friday by the Administrative Office of the US Courts.
  • Taliban group executes high-profile ex-ISI spy. Khalid Khawaja, one of two Pakistani former Inter-Services Intelligence directorate officers captured by a Taliban splinter group, named Asian Tigers, has been found dead. The other ex-ISI official, Sultan Amir Tarar, a.k.a. Colonel Imam, who was Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar’s former handler, remains in captivity.

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Abduction of former Pakistani ISI officials raises questions

Colonel Imam

Colonel Imam

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Questions are being raised about the reported abduction of two well-known veterans of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, who appear to have been kidnapped by an unknown group in Pakistan’s remote tribal regions. The two are Khalid Khawaja and Sultan Amir Tarar, a.k.a. Colonel Imam. Khawaja, a retired ISI officer, was a critical mediator between the CIA and Osama bin Laden in the 1980s, during the al-Qaeda’s war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Colonel Imam, also a former intelligence officer and a diplomat, was the ISI handler of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in the 1980s and early 1990s. Both Khawaja and Imam are considered senior members of the ISI’s ‘old guard’, who have strong ideological sympathies for both al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and frequently voice support for the latter. Read more of this post

Taliban will negotiate with US, says Mullah Omar’s former handler

Colonel Imam

Colonel Imam

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The $36-billion-worth military surge plan, spelled out by US President Barack Obama last October, is already underway in Afghanistan. But Brigadier Sultan Amir Tarar, who in the 1980s handled and trained the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar on behalf of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, says the US/NATO surge is a waste of time and money. Instead, Brigadier Tarar, also known in Central Asia as the legendary Colonel Imam, says the US should strive for a political settlement with the Taliban, by directly negotiating with Mullah Omar. He also told McClatchy Newspapers that the new NATO strategy of so-called “reintegration”, whereby low-ranking Taliban insurgents will be offered steady income and personal protection in return for renouncing Mullah Omar, the Taliban and al-Qaeda, will fail. Read more of this post

Advisors tell Obama to expand covert war inside Pakistan

Baluchistan

Baluchistan

By I. ALLEN and J. FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Reports are emerging today that the Obama White House is considering intensifying US covert operations and CIA drone airstrikes deep inside Pakistan. If carried out, these operations will be taking place in Pakistan’s vast Baluchistan province, and would represent a major escalation in the so-called “war on terrorism”. Until now, strikes by US unmanned drones, operated by the CIA, have been strictly limited to Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border. But The New York Times report that “at least two of the high-level reports on Pakistan and Afghanistan that have been forwarded to the White House in recent weeks have called for broadening the target area” to include Baluchistan. Additionally, the paper reports that several of the President’s advisors favor “conduct[ing] cross-border ground actions [deep inside Pakistan], using CIA and Special Operations commandos”. Read more of this post

Taliban Information Minister arrested in Peshawar

Ustad Yasar, who heads the Taliban information division in Afghanistan, has been arrested in Peshawar, Pakistani intelligence officials announced today. Yasar was previously arrested in 2005, again in Pakistan, by Pakistani security forces and was handed over to the Afghan authorities in the same year. In 2007, however, he was released in exchange for Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo, who had been abducted by the Taliban earlier that year. Other high-level Taliban operatives released along with Yasar include Mansoon Ahmad, Abdul and Hamdullah Ghaffar, and Mullah Abdul Latif Hakimi, the spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan. All of them remain at large. An unnamed Pakistani security official has said that, at the time of his recent arrest, Yasar was acting under orders from Mullah Mohammad Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, who had sent him to the Pakistani borderlands “to mediate in a dispute between Taliban factions” there. It will be interesting to see if the Pakistanis give US interrogators access to Yasar, and if they extradite him to Afghanistan. [IA]

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