Year in review: The biggest spy-related stories of 2021, part 2

Year in ReviewSince 2008, when intelNews was launched, it has been our end-of-year tradition to take a look back and highlight what we believe were the most important intelligence-related stories of the past 12 months. In anticipation of what 2022 may bring in this always timely and highly volatile field, we present you with our selection of the top spy stories of 2021. They are listed below in reverse order of significance, starting from 10 and leading up to 1. This is part two in a three-part series. Part one is available here. Part three is available here.

07. Iranian intelligence networks in Europe were decimated following failed operation. Four Iranian spies were tried in Belgium in February, after unsuccessfully trying to bomb an annual conference of Iranian expatriate dissidents. Conference attendees included the then-US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who addressed the meeting. Stephen Harper, Canada’s former prime minister, also spoke at the conference. Even worse for Iran, a “green notebook” found in the car of one of the spies, allegedly contained “289 places across 11 European countries”, where Assadi is thought to have met with Iranian spies operating throughout Europe.

06. Russian spies allegedly funded one of Italy’s major political parties. An alleged employee of Russian intelligence was present at a secret meeting in Moscow, in which a plan was discussed to fund Lega Nord, Italy’s leading populist party. Established in 1991, the LN seeks greater autonomy for Italy’s northern regions, and opposes the country’s membership in the European Union. An Italian newspaper claimed in June that Andrey Yuryevich Kharchenko, an alleged employee of Russian intelligence, participated in a secret 2019 meeting in Moscow, in which Kremlin figures offered LN officials to enrich the their party’s election campaign coffers by nearly $70 million.

05. US Pentagon has an army of clandestine operatives that ‘dwarfs the CIA’. The US Department of Defense maintains a worldwide “secret army” of over 60,000 operatives, many of whom have fake identities and manufactured backgrounds, according to a report from Newsweek’s investigative journalist, William Arkin. Arkin claimed that the Pentagon force is “more than ten times the size” of the clandestine wing of the CIA, and is allegedly part of a wider US government effort known as “signature reduction”. The scheme provides undercover government operatives the ability to operate domestically and around the world without the fear of having their links to spy agencies or the military discovered by online sleuths.

This is part two in a three-part series; Part one is available here. Part three is available here.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen | Date: 30 December 2021 | Permalink

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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