Revealed: German neo-Nazi who helped Palestinians was CIA agent

Willi Pohl, a.k.a. Willi VossBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A German far-right militant, whose animosity against Jews led him to aid Palestinians kill Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich massacre, says he was later recruited by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Willi Pohl, also known as Willi Voss, 68, was arrested by German authorities a few weeks after Palestinian terrorist group Black September stormed the Olympic village in Munich and took hostage 11 Israeli athletes. All of them were eventually killed by their captors during a botched escape attempt at the nearby Fürstenfeldbruck airport. Voss, who was a known neo-Nazi activist at the time, was charged with possession of weapons and providing logistical support to the Black September militants. However, after his sentence was suspended, Voss managed to secretly emigrate to Beirut, Lebanon, where he was recruited as an agent of Jihaz el-Razd, the intelligence service of the Fatah, the main group in the Palestine Liberation Organization. But in 1975, while on a PLO mission in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, he decided to switch sides. He made the decision after discovering that the car he and his girlfriend were transporting on behalf of the PLO from Beirut to Belgrade contained weapons and highly unstable explosives. He says that the PLO had apparently failed to mention the existence of the hidden items when they asked him to transport the car to Europe. According to Voss’ new book, which has just been published in Germany under the title UnterGrund (Underground), the guns and explosives were discovered by customs officers in Romania (then Rumania); but because at that time the communist country was an ally of the PLO, Voss and his girlfriend were allowed to travel to Belgrade, minus the car and the weapons. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #676

Razvan UngureanuBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►CIA silent on new drone casualties report. The CIA really needs somebody to go to bat for it on a scathing new investigative report from the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, because the findings are pretty horrific: US drones target not just the militants they initially strike, but those who come to do rescue work after those strikes, and mourners at the funerals for victims of those strikes. They’ve killed somewhere between 282 and 535 civilians in a total of 260 strikes, the report found.
►►Romania spy chief nominated to replace Prime Minister. Romania’s president has nominated Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, chief of the country’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), as prime minister hours after Emil Bloc resigned amid austerity protests. Ungureanu has a master’s degree from Oxford University and was foreign minister between 2004 and 2007 during Basescu’s first term of office.
►►Lawsuits target Pakistan’s powerful ISI intelligence agency. Pakistan’s top spy agency faces a flurry of court actions that subject its darkest operations to unusual scrutiny. The cases against the agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, have uncertain chances of success, analysts say, and few believe that they can immediately hobble it. But they do represent a rare challenge to a feared institution that is a cornerstone of military supremacy in Pakistan.

News you may have missed #647

Ilir Nazmi Kumbaro

Ilir Kumbaro

►►Albanian ex-spy chief on the run in Britain. Albania’s former intelligence chief, Ilir Nazmi Kumbaro, who is wanted in his homeland for torture and kidnapping, failed to attend an extradition hearing on Thursday at Westminster magistrates’ court in London. He has reportedly left his home in Fulham, west London, and police believe he is being harbored by friends.
►►Secret CIA black site discovered in Romania. The hitherto secret location, code-named “Bright Light”, is said to have been one of the CIA’s notorious interrogation prisons in Eastern Europe. It has been traced to the basement of Romania’s National Registry Office for Classified Information, which lies in a busy residential district of the Romanian capital, Bucharest.
►►CIA leaves drone base in Pakistan. The US Central Intelligence Agency has vacated an air base in western Pakistan that it had been using for drone strikes against militants in the country’s tribal areas. Pakistan had ordered the CIA to leave the Shamsi air base in protest over NATO airstrikes that killed at least 25 Pakistani soldiers near the border with Afghanistan on November 26.

Russia, Romania, expel diplomats in spy tit-for-tat

Gabriel Grecu

Gabriel Grecu

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Russian and Romanian governments have expelled each other’s diplomats in a spy scandal that made headlines in both countries last week. The spy affair began last Monday, August 16, when Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) announced the arrest of a Romanian diplomatic official, who was allegedly caught in the act of espionage. The official was later named as Gabriel Grecu, who was First Secretary of the Political Department of the Romanian embassy in Moscow. According to a laconic FSB press release, Grecu was detained while “attempting to solicit classified military information from a Russian national”. According to Russian media, the Romanian official was found “in possession of various pieces of espionage equipment”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #377

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New book on Canada’s mysterious Agent 235

Johann Heinrich Amadeus de Graaf

De Graaf

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A new book published by the Pennsylvania State University Press sheds new light into the life and work of mysterious Agent 235, Canada’s mysterious mid-20th-century spy known as ‘Johnny’. In Johnny: A Spy’s Life, R.S. Rose and Gordon Scott present the outcome of 14 years of research on ‘Johnny’, whose real name was Johann Heinrich Amadeus de Graaf. De Graaf was born in Germany in 1894, but later moved to Britain, and at the start of World War II worked as an informant for MI6. Although he conducted some of his operations in Germany, most of them took place in the UK, where he unmasked a number of native pro-Nazi sympathizers and agents of the Gestapo. Read more of this post

Study points to Chinese city as ‘world capital’ of cyberespionage

Shaoxing

Shaoxing

By IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
A major traffic analysis of cyberespionage attacks has identified a provincial urban center in southeast China as ‘the world capital’ of cyberespionage. The survey, conducted by cybersecurity firm Symantec, studied the origination points and targets of 12 billion malicious emails. It concluded that nearly one third of all email-based cyberespionage attacks originate from the People’s Republic of China –a percentage far larger than previously thought. It also traced most Chinese cyberespionage attacks to Shaoxing, a city of over four million residents in China’s southeaster Zhejiang province. The Symantec study said that large-scale Chinese cyberespionage attacks appear to be systematic and concentrate on carefully selected targets, such as defense policy experts and human rights activists. Read more of this post

More information on alleged Mossad hit in Budapest

Crime scene

Crime scene

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
IntelNews reported on Friday that a Syrian man was shot dead in Budapest on Wednesday morning, as he was driving his car. Witnesses reported that the assailant stole a small black briefcase from the 52-year-old victim’s vehicle, before fleeing the scene of the crime on foot. It also emerged that, in the week prior to the mysterious shooting, Hungarian air controllers located two Israeli Gulfstream spy planes hovering over the Hungarian capital, close to the airport, where Wednesday’s shooting occurred. Is this Dubai reloaded? Late on Friday, Reuters news agency reported the dead Syrian-born man’s name as Bassam Trache, 52. Meanwhile, Hungarian officials continue to deny any link between Trache’s murder and the alleged Israeli spy planes. Hungarian government spokesman, Domokos Szollar, said the overflight was “routine” training that was cleared in advance with Hungary’s National Transport Authority by the Israelis. However, Hungarian “defense ministry officials appear not to have been informed” of the alleged training exercise. Read more of this post

Italy busts arms smuggling network, arrests Iranian intelligence agents

Hamid Nejad Masoumi

Masoumi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Italian authorities have announced the arrest of two Iranians and five Italians on suspicion of smuggling European-made weapons and explosives to Iran. Italian police said the Iranians involved in the operation, which breached an international embargo on Iran, are “believed to be members of the Iranian secret services”. They are Ali Damirchiloo, 55 (occupation unknown), and Hamid Nejad Masoumi, 51, an accredited journalist and Iranian state television correspondent, who has lived in Italy since 1995. Italian authorities have issued arrest warrants for two more Iranians, Hamir Bakhtiyari Reza and Bakhtiyari Homayoun, who are also believed to be intelligence agents and are thought to have managed to escape to Iran. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #299

  • US lawmaker wants to stop CIA agents working second jobs. Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) says she will offer an amendment to the Intelligence Reauthorization bill later this week that would put new rules into place on the practice of intelligence officers who take second jobs in the private sector.
  • Poland admits to aiding CIA. After human rights groups revealed evidence that showed CIA rendition planes landing in Poland in 2003, the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency has admitted for the first time that Poland played a role in the controversial US program.
  • Former Romanian-German spy fired for secret past. German author Peter Grosz was fired on Thursday from his role as director of the theater festival in the German city of Oppenheim, following revelations that he had spied on fellow authors for Romania’s Securitate communist secret police during the 1970s. Large numbers of Romanian former intelligence agents now reside in Germany.

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News you may have missed #0283

  • Romanian spy chief in rare interview. On the 20th anniversary of Romania’s post-communist Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), Romanian daily Libera published an interesting interview with SIE director Mihai Razvan Ungureanu. Includes quote of the week: “The diplomat does nothing illegal [...] while the spy does nothing in the spirit of respecting the laws of other states”.
  • Trial of Hawaii resident accused of spying for China postponed. Noshir Gowadia’s federal trial has been delayed several times since he was arrested in 2005, for allegedly providing China with information on making cruise missiles less visible to radar and heat-seeking missiles.
  • Bizarre suicide streak in Turkish military continues. Could the latest in a long list of recent alleged suicides by members of the Turkish military be connected to the shadowy Ergenekon military-intelligence network?

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News you may have missed #0274

  • Japanese reporter cleared of 1974 espionage charges. A Japanese newspaper correspondent in South Korea, whose life was ruined in 1974, after he was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of helping fund North Korean espionage activities, has been acquitted in a retrial.
  • CIA interrogated al-Qaeda suspect in Poland, claims UN. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, suspected of the 2000 al-Qaeda bombing of the USS Cole, was interrogated in a secret CIA prison in northern Poland, claims a UN report. Similar allegations have also been leveled against 12 nations, among them EU states such as Romania and Lithuania.

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News you may have missed #0253

  • Iran undecided on nukes, says US military spy chief. The US Pentagon’s top intelligence official, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, has said what intelNews has been pointing out again and again, namely that the key finding of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, that Iran has not yet committed itself to nuclear weapons production, is still valid.
  • Nobel winner demands Germany uncover Romanian ex-spies. Herta Mueller, the Romanian-born German winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature, has called on Germany to find and prosecute former agents of Romania’s Securitate secret police, large numbers of whom have resettled in Germany after communism ended in Romania 20 years ago.

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News you may have missed #0129

  • Romanian communist spy boss dead at 80. General Nicolae Plesita, who directed Romania’s Securitate during the country’s communist period, has died. While heading the Securitate’s foreign intelligence service, from 1980 to 1984, Plesita hired the Venezuelan-born operative Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal, to assassinate Romanian dissidents in France and bomb the US-owned Radio Free Europe offices in Munich, in 1981. In 1998, Plesita revealed that he had orders from the Romanian government to find temporary shelter for Carlos in Romania after the RFE bombing.
  • Settlement reached in DEA-CIA spying dispute. A tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought 15 years ago by a former US Drug Enforcement Administration agent who accused a CIA operative of illegally bugging his home. In a court filing, lawyers for the government and the DEA agent said they “had reached an agreement in principle to settle the underlying litigation”. See here for previous intelNews coverage of this case.
  • Federal judge denies request for CIA secret documents. Hundreds of documents detailing the CIA’s defunct overseas secret detention program of suspected terrorists, including extreme interrogation methods have remained secret after U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein on Wednesday refused to release them “in order to protect intelligence methods and sources”. The ACLU argues that the CIA secret program was illegal under international and US law, that it involved the torture and deaths of some inmates, and therefore should not be shielded from public view.

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News you may have missed #0069

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