News you may have missed #879

Mossad sealBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
►►Israeli spy budget close to $2 billion. According to reports in the Israeli media, the 2014 budget for Israel’s secret services is 6.88 billion shekels, which amounts to US$1.97 billion). This figure represents an approximate increase of 4 percent compared to last year. The funds cover the operations of the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, and the Mossad, which is the country’s external covert-action agency.
►►Australia and France sign intelligence accord. Australia has struck a second intelligence-sharing agreement in less than a week, this time with France, as fears rise about the Syrian civil war becoming a hub for home-grown terrorism. The two countries have agreed, among other things, to share intelligence on their respective citizens who have gone to Syria to fight in that country’s civil war. A week earlier, Canberra had signed a similar intelligence-sharing agreement with the government of Indonesia.
►►Nazi spy could have changed course of D-Day. Days before the Normandy landings, the Lisbon-based Nazi spy Paul Fidrmuc got wind of the final details of Operation Overlord and sent an urgent message to Berlin. The Allies were not planning to land in Calais, as the Nazis thought and where they had massed 200,000 soldiers. Instead, he wrote, “the preferred plan is around La Manche”. But his dispatch was ignored by his Berlin handlers.

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Israel jails Orthodox Jew who offered to spy for Iran

Neturei Karta membersBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
An Israeli citizen, who belongs to an Orthodox anti-Zionist Jewish group that rejects the existence of the state of Israel, has been jailed for offering to spy for Iran. Yitzhak Bergel, 46, a father of eight, who resides in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Mea She’arim neighborhood, is a member of the Neturei Karta —which translates in English as “Guardians of the City”. The Jewish group opposes Zionism —the belief that a state-sanctioned Jewish homeland ought to be created in the territory described as “Land of Israel” in Jewish scriptural texts. The group, which was founded in the 1930s and has thousands of adherents in Israel, the United States and Europe, is one of several branches of conservative Judaism whose members believe that Jews are forbidden by the Torah to create their own state before the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Its members therefore oppose the existence of the current state of Israel and favor its dismantling as a Jewish state. According to his indictment, Bergel, who became religious 20 years ago, traveled to the German capital Berlin in January of 2011, intent on contacting Iranian diplomats. He walked into the Iranian embassy there and offered to collect intelligence on Israel on behalf of Iran, in return for regular payments. Israeli government prosecutors said Bergel remained in contact with his Iranian handlers until his arrest last summer. According to court documents, Bergel pleaded guilty to charges of contacting foreign agents with intent to commit treason and attempting to aid an enemy of Israel. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #863

Carmi GillonBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
►►Al-Qaeda controls more Arab territory than ever before. Al-Qaeda currently controls territory that stretches more than 400 miles across the heart of the Middle East. Indeed, the group appears to control more territory in the Arab world than it has done at any time in its history. Its affiliates now control much of northern and northwestern Syria as well as some parts of eastern Syria, as well as much of Anbar province, which is around a third of Iraqi territory.
►►German diplomats survive shooting in Saudi Arabia. Two German diplomats survived a shooting attack on their car while on a visit to eastern Saudi Arabia on Monday, the state news agency SPA reported, but their vehicle was burned. In Berlin, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said: “I can confirm that there was an incident during a drive out in the country. The car was shot at and it caught fire. There were no injuries. The embassy in Riyadh has launched an investigation”.
►►Israel’s ex-security chief flees Denmark to avoid arrest. Carmi Gillon, former director of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency, who is also Israel’s former ambassador to Denmark, has left the Scandinavian country following a formal complaint accusing him of committing crimes of torture and brutality against Palestinian detainees. Gillon is reported to have left the country hastily to avoid being detained.

News you may have missed #814

Ilir KumbaroBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Israel accuses Palestinian of spying for Hezbollah. Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency says a Palestinian man has been charged with relaying information to Hezbollah in Lebanon about sensitive government sites, including parliament. It identified the suspect as Azzam Mashahara, a resident of east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967. Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem, unlike Palestinians from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, have Israeli identity cards that allow them to travel freely within Israel. Mashahara was charged with maintaining contacts with a foreign agent and relaying information to the enemy.
►►UK agency tries to crack coded message from WWII-era carrier pigeon. The note, written on official stationary with the heading “Pigeon Service,” was discovered in a red canister attached to the skeletal leg of a pigeon in a chimney in Surrey, England. The message is made up of 27 seemingly random five-letter blocks and though it’s undated, government analysts believe the pigeon met his end while on a secret mission during the Second World War. The note is signed “Sjt W Stot” and was intended for the destination “XO2”. In a statement, Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), said that during the war secret communications would often utilize specialized codebooks “in which each code group of four or five letters had a meaning relevant to a specific operation, allowing much information to be sent in a short message”. The GCHQ said that those messages may have been put through an additional layer of security by being re-coded with what’s known as a one-time pad.
►►Albania court convicts fugitive ex-spy chief. An Albanian court has convicted Ilir Kumbaro, the country’s fugitive former intelligence chief, of murder for the 1995 death of a suspect who was illegally detained for an alleged plot to murder the President of the Republic of Macedonia. The victim, businessman Remzi Hoxha, an ethnic Albanian from Macedonia, was abducted by the secret police 17 years ago along with two other suspects for allegedly planning to kill then-Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov during a visit to Albania. The court said the three suspects were held illegally and tortured during questioning. Kumbaro traveled to Britain in 1996 under a false identity, claiming to be a refugee from Kosovo. He has been missing for a year, after skipping an extradition hearing in London. Hoxha was never found and is presumed to have died in custody.

News you may have missed #775

Ramstein Air Base, GermanyBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Israel arrests man for allegedly spying for Syria. Israeli prosecutors have charged Iyad Jamil Assad al-Johari, a Druze resident of the occupied Golan Heights, with spying for Syria. The Shin Bet internal security service said in a statement that Johari, who is from the border village of Majdal Shams, was charged with “having contact with a foreign agent” and “passing information to the enemy”. The Shin Bet said Johari was arrested last month “on suspicion of maintaining contact with Syrian intelligence and passed information on Israeli army deployment on the Golan Heights”. The man’s family has denied the accusations.
►►German NATO employee charged with spying. Markus Koehler, a spokesman for German federal prosecutors, said in a statement that the suspect –identified only as Manfred K. in accordance with German privacy rules– was arrested Monday on charges of obtaining state secrets with the intent to provide them to an unidentified third party. The civilian NATO employee, who works at the US air base at Ramstein, is alleged to have obtained the data and then transferred it to his private computer.
►►Aussie spy agency looking for locksmith. In a new notice on its careers webpage, ASIS, Australia’s foreign intelligence agency, is looking for a “corporate locksmith”. “This is a unique role for a highly motivated and dedicated locksmith to provide complex locksmith services and advice across our organisation”, the notice states. “The position involves interstate and overseas travel, often at short notice”. The job notice says the successful applicant would have to manage the purchasing of all locks, safes and other secure containers for the service.

News you may have missed #643 (Israel edition)

Mosab Hassan Yousef

Yousef/Joseph

►►Hezbollah uncovers more Israeli spy devices. Lebanese media reported on Friday that two people were wounded in a blast that occurred in the south of the country, between the towns of Srifa and Deir Kifa. According to some of the reports, the blast targeted espionage devices which were destroyed by Israel after being exposed by Hezbollah. This is not the first time such devices have been discovered in Lebanon: see here and here for previous such incidents.
►►PLO subpoenas Palestinian who spied for Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization served Mosab Hassan Yousef, who says he is a former spy for Israeli domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet, with a subpoena in the United States last month. The Palestinian group says it wants his notes and details of his spy work for the Israeli government.
►►Analysis: The complex relationship between the Mossad and Israeli media. “Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan’s crusade this week against an Israeli strike on Iran took on a new dimension with his several media interviews. His campaign also reflects the Mossad’s attitude toward journalists, something along the lines of respect them, suspect them and use them. The degree shifts from one Mossad head to the next”. An enlightening analysis by veteran Israeli intelligence correspondent Yossi Melman.

WikiLeaks revelations keep coming, but few pay attention

WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Most Western news outlets are now focusing almost exclusively on the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Few are paying attention to the details of Assange’s rape allegations in Sweden, which have sparked an interesting —though limited— debate about possible links between Assange’s accusers and American intelligence. Even fewer are paying attention to the actual US diplomatic cable revelations by WikiLeaks, which keep appearing daily, mostly in British quality broadsheet The Guardian (The New York Times has largely lost interest at this point). One such revelation, published on Monday, concerns allegations by the Director of the Shabat, also known as Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security service), that Palestinian group Fatah asked Israel to attack rival Palestinian group Hamas, in 2007. The leaked cable claims Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin told US diplomats that Fatah, the secular Palestinian nationalist faction that controls the West Bank, was “demoralized” and “desperate” to halt the rapid rise of Islamic Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Diskin further told US officials that Fatah understood it could only survive with Israeli support, and had thus directly “asked us [Israel] to attack Hamas”. Perhaps more importantly, the leaked cable appears to confirm intense speculation among some intelligence observers that Fatah is “actively gathering information on behalf of Israeli intelligence”. Read more of this post

Israel government extends document secrecy rule to 70 years

Mossad seal

Mossad seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Researchers, academics and transparency advocates have criticized new Israeli government regulations that extend the classification period of state archives from 50 to 70 years. The measure was approved on July 11 by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following strong pressure by the Israeli intelligence community, led by the country’s General Security Service, also known as Shin Bet. Speaking to leading Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Israel National Archives Director Yehoshua Freundlich admitted that the move was designed to shield Israel “over [issues relating to its] adherence to international law”. He added that the new legislation was also a response to the rising freedom-of-information movement in Israel, led by such organizations as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Movement for Freedom of Information. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #386 (Israel edition)

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News you may have missed #378

 

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News you may have missed #354

  • Germany arrests Libyans on spy charges. Two Libyans have been arrested in Berlin on suspicion of working as secret agents, spying on members of the Libyan opposition in Germany. The two, identified only as 42-year-old ‘Adel Ab’ and 46-year-old ‘Adel Al’, are being held in custody in Berlin, pending possible spying charges.
  • Israeli handler discusses relationship with Hamas spy. Israeli broadsheet Ha’aretz has aired a fascinating interview with ‘Captain Loai’, a Shin Bet operative who handled Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of a senior Hamas official, who was an informant for Israeli intelligence for at least a decade. Note the strong personal connection between handler and informant, which would be considered unprofessional in US intelligence culture.
  • Analysis: Iran’s murky link to al-Qaeda confounds CIA. It’s one of the enduring mysteries of the US ‘war on terrorism’: what will become of the al-Qaeda leaders and operatives who fled into Iran after 9/11 and have been detained there for years?

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Israel arrests prominent Arabs on Hezbollah spying charges

Omar Sayid

Omar Sayid

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Israeli authorities have arrested two prominent Arab-Israeli political activists, accusing them of spying on behalf of Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah. The arrestees are Omar Sayid (or Sayeed), who campaigns on behalf of Israeli-Arab political party Balad, and Amir Makhoul, who heads Ittijah. This Haifa-based group, known as the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, aims to combat alleged cases of discrimination against Arab-Israelis. Sayid was arrested by members of the Israeli police and intelligence agency Shin Bet on April 24, and Makhoul was arrested on May 6. But the Israeli media were not allowed to report on the arrests until late last Sunday, due to Israeli censorship laws enforced in “national security investigations”. Nevertheless, news of the arrests began circulating almost immediately on Arab electronic media outside of Israel, and the Israeli government was eventually forced to lift the gag order, upon learning that hundreds of Haifa residents were preparing a demonstration on Monday in support of the two arrestees. Read more of this post

Analysis: Inside the US-Israeli intelligence relationship

US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel

US embassy, Israel

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv, authors of Friends in Deed: Inside the US-Israel Alliance, have produced a lengthy, well-researched and up-to-date essay on US-Israeli intelligence relations. The essay, which appears in the latest issue of Tablet, carefully examines the highly complex subject of the CIA’s associations with the Mossad and Shin Bet. The fact is that, despite their unquestionable alliance Israel and the US have for years been among each other’s primary intelligence targets. Melman and Raviv correctly remind us that, by as early as 1954, US officials at the US embassy in Tel Aviv had already discovered several microphones in the office of the ambassador. Two years later, US counter-surveillance experts uncovered electronic bugs at the Tel Aviv residence of a US military attaché. Since then, the use of bribes and even women by the Shin Bet to lure US embassy guards has been frequent –and mostly unsuccessful. Read more of this post

Son of senior Hamas official was Shin Bet informant

Mosab Hassan Yousef

Yousef/Joseph

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The son of a senior Hamas official, who moved from the Gaza Strip to the United States in 2007, has said he was an informant for Israeli intelligence for at least a decade. Mosab Hassan Yousef, who legally changed his name to Joseph after converting to Christianity, is son of Hamas parliamentarian Sheikh Hassan Yousef. He told Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that he was turned by Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service, in 1997, after serving a year in an Israeli prison. The newspaper also spoke with Joseph’s Shin Bet handler, a “Captain Loai”, who said the Hamas official’s son was the agency’s most prized Hamas informant, and was given the operational alias GREEN PRINCE. Read more of this post

Mossad has long history of assassination operations

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Al-Mabhouh

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The recent assassination of Hamas military official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh has sparked a public debate about the history of the Kidon (formerly known as Caesarea), Mossad’s elite assassination unit. Several participants in this debate frequently mention the infamous Black September killings of the 1970s (operation BAYONET), which exterminated almost every original member of the Palestinian group that perpetrated the massacre of the Israeli athletes in the 1972 summer Olympic Games in Munich. In reality, however, these operations were not conducted by the Kidon, but by a separate unit outside Mossad’s operational structure, created specifically for this purpose. The same applies to other extrajudicial assassinations of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, which are usually perpetrated by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency. Read more of this post

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