Ukraine war prompts European Union to overhaul counter-surveillance practices

European Commission buildingTHE POLITICAL FALLOUT OF the Russian invasion of Ukraine is prompting the European Union (EU) to radically upgrade the security of its facilities, according to a series of internal memoranda. On July 14, the EUObserver, an EU-focused news agency based in Brussels, said it had seen an internal EU document that describes the creation of a new anti-surveillance unit. The unit’s mission will reportedly center on providing security for closed-door EU meetings, using counter-measures standards employed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

According to EUObserver, EU member states have agreed to establish a so-called “CSC-TSCM Expert Group,” which will spearhead the formation of this new unit. In security parlance, TSCM stands for technical security counter-measures, a method of counter-surveillance. In their most basic form, TSCM operations are carried out by teams of technical experts trained in the use of anti-bugging equipment. These are able to detect radio emissions, which are generated by most surveillance devices —commonly referred to as ‘bugs’.

The internal memorandum stipulates that the “CSC-TSCM Expert Group” will be officially set up after July 25. It will consist of experts from several EU states. The resulting unit’s mission will be to “prevent, detect and potentially neutralise eavesdropping of information in any physical or electronic form,” the memorandum states. Counter-measures operations will include regular inspections of “facilities and vehicles and the protection of classified meetings” in buildings that house the EU Council, EU Parliament, and the European Commission.

The forthcoming formation of the “CSC-TSCM Expert Group” appears to be closely linked to news, published earlier this month, relating to the construction of a new facility. The new facility is described in the media as an EU “secure bunker.” According to the EUObserver, the €8 million ($8.07 million) enclosed space will operate as a designated EU sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF). The term denotes a secure area within a larger building, which is used to discuss sensitive topics and process classified information. Read more of this post

In rare move, Israel identifies special operations officer killed in Gaza Strip raid

IDF Gaza Strip HamasIN A RARE MOVE, Israel released the identity last weekend of a special operations officer who was killed by Islamic Hamas during a 2018 covert mission in the Gaza Strip. As intelNews reported at the time, an undercover team of Israeli operatives was exfiltrated by helicopter from Gaza on November 11, 2018. The exfiltration took place after the Israelis were spotted by members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which is part of Hamas’ armed wing.

The incident was followed by a barrage of nearly 500 rockets and mortars fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The Israelis responded by firing more than 160 missiles that fell throughout the Palestinian enclave. Hostilities were halted on November 13, when Hamas declared a unilateral ceasefire brokered by Egypt. The incident prompted the resignation of Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman. At the time, the Israel Defense Forces, which were behind the botched operation, refused to comment on the team’s mission, admitting only that its troops “operated […] in the Gaza Strip”.

It was said at the time that the members of the undercover team were dressed in civilian clothes and that at least two of them were disguised as women. After entering Gaza in a civilian Volkswagen vehicle, they drove to Khan Yunis, a city in the south of the Strip, near the Egyptian border. It was there that they were discovered by the al-Qassam Brigades, who stopped them at a checkpoint, asking for identification. The Israeli team opened fire using a silenced gun. Following a high-speed car chase, the Israelis left via helicopter. Their abandoned Volkswagen car was then blown up by an Israeli fighter jet.

On Sunday, the IDF declassified the name of the fallen officer. It also released a photograph of the man, who has been identified as Lt. Col. Mahmoud Kheir el-Din, 41, from Galilee. A member of Israel’s Druze community, el-Din served in the Mista’arvim, a counter-terrorism unit of the IDF’s Special Operations division that is trained to capture or assassinate targets in enemy territory. El-Din joined the IDF’s Special Operations division in 2002, after having served as a platoon commander.

The IDF also provided limited details about the botched operation that led to el-Din’s death. It claims that el-Din “physically confronted” one of the Hamas operatives, thus giving another one of the Israeli soldiers the opportunity to open fire and kill seven Hamas members. El-Din was killed during the shootout, according to the IDF. The Israeli government said the decision to release el-Din’s identity was coordinated with his family. It added, however, that it does not plan to release further details about the botched operation.

Author: Ian Alen | Date: 17 May 2022 | Permalink

Russia targeted by unprecedented wave of cyber-attacks, experts say

Computer hackers AnonymousRUSSIAN STATE COMPANIES, BUSINESSES and individuals are being targeted in an unprecedented wave of attacks by digital assailants, according to observers, who say they are surprised by its ferocity. Since February of this year, hackers have accessed the personal financial data of pro-Kremlin oligarchs, stolen millions of internal emails stored on Russian government severs, and defaced high-profile websites across the nation. The Washington Post, which summarized the wave of attacks last Sunday, said they are being waged by hacker collectives, as well as common criminals. The paper claimed that the assailants are not connected to foreign governments.

According to observers, Russia currently tops the global list of targeted attacks by hackers for the first time since records began. Major targets include Russia’s media regulator, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, which anti-government activists blame for implementing Soviet-style censorship. Hackers have also attacked Russia’s state-owned broadcaster, known as VGTRK, as well the Russian intelligence and defense establishments. Tens of thousands of emails exchanged by senior VGTRK officials since 2013 were recently stolen and leaked in a massive data dump. Additionally, lengthy lists containing the names of alleged Russian intelligence officers, as well as of soldiers, have been leaked online by unknown hackers.

The attacks are led by political hacker collectives, including Network Battalion 65 (NB65), which announced its existence on Twitter just hours after Russian troops began to march toward Kyiv. The group is believed to have links to the international hacktivist collective Anonymous, and claims to have no ties to governments. Another hacker collective that is behind the attacks on Russia is a group calling itself AgainstTheWest. Despite its name, it is led by a group of pro-Western, “English-speaking hackers […] with intelligence backgrounds”, according to The Post. Attacks are also being perpetrated by smaller groups of hackers, some of them based in Ukraine, and by criminal groups, whose members are motivated by profit and are attacking Russian state targets at a time when the Kremlin appears vulnerable.

According to the paper, the Ukrainian government is not directly involved in these cyber-attacks. However, it has repeatedly endorsed attacks by hackers aimed at weakening the Russian state. Back in February, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Digital Transformation Minister issued an open call for the formation of a “volunteer cyber army” to fight for Ukraine. As intelNews reported at the time, the Ukrainian government claimed that nearly 200,000 people had shown interest in joining the initiative. However, little has been mentioned since. The government of Ukraine maintains an “IT Army” channel on Telegram, where it frequently suggests Russian targets that pro-Ukrainian hackers should attack. However, any evidence of links between it and the wave of cyber-attacks that Russia has been experiencing remains speculative.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 03 May 2022 | Permalink

South Korea busts alleged North Korean spy ring, handler remains at large

North and South KoreaSOUTH KOREAN AUTHORITIES HAVE busted an alleed spy ring run by a North Korean handler, who remains at large. Two men have been arrested so far in connection with the ring. One of them, identified only as “Lee”, is reportedly the chief executive of a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange. The other man, a Republic of Korea Army officer, is identified as “Captain B.” in court documents.

Lee was arrested on April 2, while Captain B. was arrested on April 15. They are facing charges of violating South Korea’s 1948 National Security Act. Prosecutors alleged that the two men divulged to their North Korean handler the log-in credentials to the online command-and-control portal of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. The men are accused of having received substantial financial compensation in return for their services.

According to the prosecution, Lee was approached in July 2021 by a North Korean intelligence officer, who recruited him to work for North Korean intelligence. In August of the same year, Lee approached Captain B., and recruited as a subcontractor, with the promise of substantial financial compensation in the form of bitcoin. Captain B. then began giving military secrets to Lee, who passed them on to the North Koreans.

Eventually, Lee’s handler allegedly provided him with a miniature camera hidden inside an electronic watch. Lee gave this spy device to Captain B., along with a hacking device hidden inside a flash drive, which is commonly known as a “poison tap”. This device gave the North Korean handler access to the laptop used by the men to access the South Korean military’s command-and-control portal. The two alleged spies were compensated with nearly $600,000 in bitcoin for their services.

South Korean authorities claim that the North Korean handler of the spy ring, as well as a man who worked as a courier between the handler and the two agents, remain at large. Public court documents do not specify the kind of information that was allegedly accessed by the North Koreans as a result of this breach.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 29 April 2022 | Permalink

China steps up ‘people’s war’ against alleged Western espionage offensive

Supreme People’s ProcuratorateCHINESE STATE-OWNED MEDIA has stepped up warnings of an alleged Western espionage offensive, to mark China’s annual “national security education day”, a new initiative promoted by the Chinese Communist Party (CPC). The decision to designate April 15 “national security education day” was adopted by the CPC in 2015, during its 12th National People’s Congress. Since then, the Chinese government has promoted the day as an effort to create a “positive atmosphere of national security” across the nation.

In recent months, Beijing has called on the country’s citizens to combat an alleged espionage offensive against China. According to Chinese officials, the alleged offensive is being led by the United States. Chinese citizens are being called to “wage a people’s war” against foreign espionage, by reporting suspicious activities by foreigners and locals alike to the authorities.

The call to war against alleged espionage follows a resolution by the CPC in November of last year, which critiqued the country’s inability to maintain a high level of national security. The resolution called on various elements of the government and general population to address the nation’s “ability to respond to various major risks […] and the coordination mechanisms for maintaining national security”. Notably, the resolution described these efforts as “currently not strong”.

On Friday, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP), China’s highest government agency responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminal activity, issued a call to Chinese citizens to be watchful of using “popular social media platforms”. The SPP noted that such platforms had become “a hotbed for the infiltration of foreign hostile forces”. The warning made special mention of employment and dating websites, which prayed on “students, migrant workers and unemployed youth who know little about national security”.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 18 April 2022 | Permalink

Dozens purged as Kremlin blames Russian spy services for botched Ukraine invasion

FSB - IAMore than 150 officers have been purged form the ranks of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), as President Vladimir Putin is placing blame on his intelligence agencies for the setbacks experienced during the invasion of Ukraine. This assessment was communicated to the London-based Times newspaper by British intelligence sources, who added that many of those purged have been dismissed from the service, while others remain under house arrest. A few —among them senior FSB officials— are in prison. The FSB is tasked with domestic security and counterintelligence operations, which were carried out by the KGB during the Cold War.

According to The Times, the purge has mostly targeted officers in the FSB’s Service for Operational Information and International Communications, which is informally known as the Fifth Service of the FSB. As intelNews has previously explained, the FSB’s Fifth Service was established in 1992 in order to fill the vacuum created by a host of no-spy agreements between Moscow and the governments of former Soviet Republics. These agreements prevent Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) from spying inside the territories of former Soviet states.

By 1995, the Fifth Service had become known as the “foreign spy wing” of the FSB. It grew in size drastically after 1999, and some claim it “graduated into [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s imperial gendarme”. Today, the Fifth Service is reportedly in charge of Kremlin’s “kill list” of Ukrainian senior officials and other dissidents who live in Ukraine. Until recently, the Fifth Service was led by Sergei Beseda and Anatoly Bolyukh (or Bolukh).

However, The Times claims that both officials have been dismissed from their posts in recent weeks. Initially, the Russian government claimed that Beseda had embezzled funds, and placed him under house arrest. He has since been transferred to a prison, according to the paper, and has now been formally charged with misinforming the Kremlin about the conditions on the ground in Ukraine. Bolyukh has been dismissed from his post but is reportedly not in prison. His current whereabouts remain unclear.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 14 April 2022 | Permalink

Russia gives indirect support to Western far-right groups: US intelligence report

Pro-Russian forces in UkraineTHE KREMLIN IS PROVIDING “indirect and passive support” to Western neo-Nazi, white supremacist and other far-right groups, in an effort to subvert Western security, according to a leaked report produced by United States intelligence agencies. The report is titled “Russian Federation Support of Racially and Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists”. It was produced in July of 2021 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), with information provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency.

According to Yahoo News, which obtained a copy of the unclassified report, it “stops short” of claiming that the government of Russia is giving direct financial and other material assistance to Western far-right groups. The report admits that US intelligence agencies do not have “indications of direct Russian government support” for such groups. However, it claims that Moscow appears to tolerate “some private Russian entities’ support” for American and European far-right organizations.

A number of Russian far-right groups are “actively training foreign white nationalists” and are engaged in efforts to recruit Western far-right extremists. These recruits come from countries such as Germany, Canada and the United States. They regularly travel to Russia, where they receive paramilitary training. Upon returning to their home countries, they help Russian far-right groups to “expand their reach into the West, increase membership and raise money”, the report claims.

The report cites the example of the St. Petersburg-based Russian Imperial Movement (RIM), which is known to have provided paramilitary training to Western white supremacists and neo-Nazis. In 2020 the US Department of State designated the RIM a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) group. The designation marked the first time in history that the US Department of State had formally applied the label of terrorist to a white supremacist organization. The ODNI report also cites the case of the neo-Nazi Rusich Reconnaissance and Sabotage Group, which has links with Russia’s Wagner Group, a private military contractor with significant presence in Ukraine, Africa and elsewhere.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 11 February 2022 | Permalink

FBI confidential informant who infiltrated the KKK speaks publicly for the first time

Joseph MooreA UNITED STATES ARMY veteran and government informant, who infiltrated the white supremacist organization known as the Ku Klux Klan for over a decade, has spoken publicly about his work for the first time. The informant’s birth name is Joseph Moore, but in 2018 he changed it in order to evade detection by KKK members who might be tempted to track him down. Today the 50-year-old former Army sniper lives with his wife and four children somewhere in Florida, according to the Associated Press.

The news agency said Moore reached out to one of its reporters who had authored a series of exposés about white supremacists working in Florida’s penitentiary system. The reports relied on evidence uncovered by Moore. The former FBI informant told the Associated Press that he has never discussed his undercover work in public, until now. He added that he was not a member of the KKK before “the government approached him, and asked for his help”. That took place in 2007, according to the report.

Moore’s primary mission as an informant for the FBI was to provide evidence of active law enforcement personnel who were active in KKK groups based in Florida and Georgia. After joining the Englewood, Florida-headquartered United Northern & Southern Knights of the KKK, Moore began to regularly attend the group’s meetings wearing hidden surveillance devices. According to the Associated Press, he was able to identify “dozens of police officers, prison guards, sheriff deputies and other law enforcement officers who were involved with the Klan and outlaw motorcycle clubs”.

After a brief respite, the FBI re-established contact with Moore in 2013 and asked him to infiltrate another white supremacist group, known as the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Within a year, Moore had gained the group’s trust and was operating as its director of security, with tasks that included safeguarding the group’s internal communications. During that time, Moore reportedly helped the FBI “foil at least two murder plots” by KKK members, and assisted the government in identifying Klan members who were also working as law enforcement officers throughout Florida.

Moore told the Associated Press that he and his family adopted new names in 2018, in an effort to prevent the men he helped put in prison from finding him once they complete their sentences. But he fears for his and his family’s safety, which is why he chose to go public with his story, in the hope that the exposure will make it harder for the KKK to hurt him. He also said that a number of people associated with the KKK had “appeared at his house” in recent months, prompting him to contact the FBI and his local sheriff’s office. The Associated Press said it reached out to the FBI about Moore’s work as an informant, but received no response.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 24 December 2021 | Permalink

Spain’s former prime minister denies knowledge of high-level spy operation

Mariano RajoySPAIN’S FORMER PRIME MINISTER, Mariano Rajoy, has denied knowledge of an alleged spy operation that prosecutors say is connected to one of the most extensive corruption scandals in Spanish political history. The alleged spy scandal relates to what is known in Spain as the Gürtel case, which centers on an extensive network of tax evasion, bribery and money laundering. The Gürtel case brought together leading business executives, criminal kingpins, and senior politicians from Rajoy’s conservative Partido Popular (PP).

In May of 2018, Spain’s highest criminal court, the Audiencia Nacional, ruled that senior PP officials had enriched themselves with kickbacks and bribes, and had laundered large sums of money with assistance from the criminal underworld. The scandal effectively brought an end to the government of Prime Minister Rajoy later that year, and has virtually annihilated the once robust electoral popularity of the PP.

In 2020, another side of the Gürtel case emerged, which became known as Operation KITCHEN. This refers to an espionage effort that targeted senator Luis Bárcenas, who also served as treasurer of the PP. It was discovered that Bárcenas had in his possession bookkeeping documents that shed light on a secret system for recording illicit bribes paid to PP administrators and senior party figures. For his implication in the Gürtel case, Bárcenas was eventually given a 33-year prison sentence, which he is currently serving.

It appears that, once senior PP executives realized that Bárcenas had these documents in his possession, and that he may share them with the authorities so as to secure a lighter prison sentence for himself, they allegedly set up an espionage operation aimed at preventing Bárcenas’ documents from ending up in the hands of the authorities.

On Monday, however, Rajoy, who served as prime minister from 2011 to 2018, claimed he had no knowledge of any espionage efforts undertaken against Bárcenas. Speaking before a parliamentary committee that is investigating Operation KITCHEN, Rajoy said he had nothing to do with the spy affair. He later told reporters: “I never had any knowledge of the existence of this operation […], so I gave instructions on something I knew nothing about? I don’t know what they [the committee] were looking for”. Rajoy also told the parliamentary committee: “I really don’t care what Mr. Bárcenas [and others implicated in the Gürtel case] might have said about me”.

The investigation into Operation KITCHEN continues.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 14 December 2021 | Permalink

Turkey launches investigation after explosive found under Erdoğan guardsman’s car

Nusaybin TurkeyTURKISH AUTHORITIES HAVE LAUNCHED an investigation after a makeshift explosive device was found under the car of a police officer guarding an open-air speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The rally took place on Saturday in Siirt, a Kurdish-majority town located about 90 miles from the Turkish-Syrian border. The town has a symbolic significance for Erdoğan, as it is the hometown of his wife, Emine Erdoğan, and was his constituency for four years. In 2003 he won a by-election there and entered the Turkish Grand National Assembly as a member.

According to pro-government Turkish media, the makeshift bomb was affixed to the undercarriage of a private car. The car belongs to a police officer in the city of Nusaybin (pictured), in the province of Mardin, which is situated on the Turkish-Syrian border. The explosive device was detected by a bomb squad on Saturday morning, as the police officer was preparing to depart for Siirt, where he was going to help secure an outdoor rally by Erdoğan. The purpose of the rally was to gather support for the embattled Erdoğan, as the Turkish economy is undergoing its most serious recession in a generation.

Turkish media said that a specialist bomb squad was dispatched to Nusaybin upon the discovery of the device, and defused it “in a controlled manner”. Later that day, Erdoğan began his speech at the rally in Siirt by mentioning the discovery of the device, saying that the “defeats suffered by the terrorists” were bound to prompt “confessions of treachery and meanness”, which will be “revealed in time”. Southeastern Turkey, where Siirt is located, is a stronghold of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed secessionist group that Turkey has been battling for nearly 40 years.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 06 December 2021 | Permalink

US intelligence reports suggest possible Russian military invasion in Ukraine

UkraineINTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS IN THE United States are becoming increasingly convinced that Russia is contemplating extensive military action in Ukraine, according to Western insiders. Russian troop concentrations near the Ukrainian border have been “large and unusual” for several weeks, according to observers.

The New York Times reports that American intelligence assessments do not view war in Ukraine as an inevitable outcome of Moscow’s military maneuvers in western Russia. In fact, many suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin “has not yet decided” how to proceed in Ukraine. Nevertheless, “all the pieces are in place” for a large-scale military invasion, according to experts who spoke to The Times.

The number of American intelligence observers who believe that Moscow’s military maneuvers may represent a bluff is gradually shrinking. Some believe that the Kremlin’s goal is to establish command over a larger and more unified landmass than the one it currently controls in southeastern Ukraine, and thus secure a contiguous land linking Russian soil with the territory it occupies in Ukraine.

Washington has been sharing intelligence on this fast-changing situation with Ukraine, while also briefing its North Atlantic Treaty Organization partners. Last week, the United States Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines visited Brussels for discussions with NATO ambassadors. The unusual visit to Russia by Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns, which took place in early November, may also be connected to the rising tensions in Ukraine, according to The Times.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 22 November 2021 | Permalink

Percentage of unvaccinated US spy agency employees remains unknown: report

COVID-19 Pentagon

MOST AMERICAN INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES will not disclose the percentage of their employees who are vaccinated for COVID-19, or how many are resisting government vaccination mandates for federal workers. All United States federal government employees and federal contractors are required to comply with vaccination mandates by November 22. Those who refuse to get vaccinated without having been granted a medical exemption, are likely to face a suspension for up to 14 days, which could result in permanent dismissal.

The vaccine mandate for government workers is part of a nationwide effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 750,000 people in the United States since early 2020. Studies by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that unvaccinated virus hosts are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. It is currently estimated that around 80 percent of the adult population of the United States has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and around 70 percent is fully vaccinated.

The percentage of intelligence employees and contractors who are vaccinated against the coronavirus is not known, though it is generally believed to be higher than the percentage among the general population in the country. The Central Intelligence Agency has disclosed that fewer than 3% of its employees are unvaccinated, while the National Reconnaissance Office has stated that about 9 percent of its employees have yet to receive a single shot of the vaccine. No information is available about the 16 other agencies of the United States intelligence community.

Last week, Chris Stewart (R-UT), who is a member of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, claimed that as many as 20 percent of government personnel remain unvaccinated in some of the intelligence agencies. He added that agencies “that are more closely affiliated with the military tended to report lower vaccination rates”. He did not elaborate, but questioned whether suspending or dismissing unvaccinated employees of intelligence agencies was a prudent course of action, given their role in national security.

But other lawmakers expressed support for implementing the government’s vaccination mandate in the intelligence community. Jason Crow (D-CO), who also belongs to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the nation’s intelligence agencies were seeing high rates of vaccination. He added that, if some employees are “not willing to do what’s necessary to protect their own health and the health of their unit, that actually calls into question their ability to effectively do the job” of protecting national security.

In reporting on this story, the Associated Press said last week it had contacted a number of intelligence agencies to inquire about the vaccination rates among their employees, but had received no information. The news agency said that several intelligence organizations, among them the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, had “declined to provide their vaccination rate when asked”. Similarly, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which coordinates the activities of the intelligence community, also “declined several requests to provide figures for the intelligence community” as a whole.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 08 November 2021 | Permalink

Chinese-linked hacker group breached Indonesian spy agency’s networks

Indonesian State Intelligence Agency

A GROUP OF COMPUTER hackers with links to the Chinese state is likely behind a major breach of networks belonging to at least ten Indonesian government ministries and agencies, including the country’s primary intelligence service. The breach was first reported on September 10 by cybersecurity firm Insikt Group, whose researchers say they have been monitoring the hacks since April of this year.

Insikt Group said experts in its threat research division noticed that a number of PlugX malware command and control servers were regularly communicating with hosts inside the networks of the Indonesian government. After forensically examining the communication patterns, the researchers concluded that the initial contact between the command and control servers and the Indonesian government networks was made in March of this year, if not earlier. The technical details of the intrusion are still being determined, according to Insikt Group.

The firm said that the breach was perpetrated by Mustang Panda, a mysterious advanced persistent threat actor, which is also known as BRONZE PRESIDENT, HoneyMyte, and Red Lich. In the past, Mustang Panda has been particularly active in Southeast Asia, targeting servers in Mongolia, Malaysia and Vietnam. The targets of this latest breach included the Indonesian State Intelligence Agency, known as BIN. According to Insikt Group, BIN was “the most sensitive target compromised in the campaign”.

The company said it notified the Indonesian government twice about these intrusions, in June and July. Although no response was forthcoming from the Indonesian government, changes in its computer networks since that time may be taken as evidence that the authorities took steps to “identify and clean the infected systems”, according to Insikt Group’s report.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 14 September 2021 | Permalink

CIA considers establishing stand-alone China mission center, report claims

CIA headquarters

THE UNITED STATES CENTRAL Intelligence Agency is weighing the possibility of establishing a stand-alone mission center that would focus on China, according to a new report. Traditionally, questions regarding China have fallen under the agency’s Mission Center for East Asia and Pacific, which focuses on the broader geographical region that includes China. However, according to the Bloomberg news agency, that may about to change.

Quoting “three current and former officials” with knowledge of “internal deliberations” at the CIA, Bloomberg said on Thursday that the proposal to establish a stand-alone China mission center orginages from the agency’s new director, William Burns. According to the report, Burns is looking for ways to “make it easier to secure headcount, funding and high-level attention for [the spy agency’s] China-related activities”.

A stand-alone China mission center would allow the CIA to utilize and combine diverse resources across its various directorates and units. Additionally, elevating the topic of China to a stand-alone mission would reflect the policy priorities of the administration of US President Joe Biden, said Bloomberg. The report comes less than a month after Burns said during an interview that the CIA might deploy China specialists at US government facilities around the world. This would mirror the agency’s approach to the challenge posed by Soviet Union during the Cold War.

During his Senate confirmation hearing in February of this year, Burns stated that he viewed China as the most serious threat to American national security in the near and long term. He added that China’s “adversarial [and] predatory leadership” aimed to “replace the United States as the world’s most powerful and influential nation”.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 13 August 2021 | Permalink

Ex-Spanish King’s former mistress claims intelligence service spied on her

Juan Carlos ITHE EX-MISTRESS OF SPAIN’S former king has sued him in a British court, claiming that he deployed agents from Spain’s intelligence service in a “campaign of unlawful covert and over surveillance” against her. Juan Carlos I, 83, was king of Spain from 1975 until his abdication from the throne in 2014. He now lives in self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates, having left Spain in August. His departure came amidst a barrage of media reports revealing his involvement in a host of financial scandals, which are still being investigated by Spain’s authorities.

In 2012, it became known that the king had a six-year love affair with German-born Danish business consultant Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, 57, who is based in Britain. Since the end of the affair, in 2009, it is alleged that Carlos has been trying to retrieve nearly £60 million ($84 million), which he reportedly gifted to Wittgenstein when they were lovers. According to some media reports, Wittgenstein claims that the funds were given to her by the then-monarch “as an expression of his love” for her.

Late last year, Wittgenstein filed a lawsuit in Britain, in which she accuses her former lover of a campaign of harassment against her. She also claims that he employed agents of the Spanish National Intelligence Agency (Centro Nacional de Inteligencia , or CNI) to spy on her. The lawsuit, made public on Wednesday, alleges that, starting in 2012, current or former CNI agents were deployed by the ex-king to keep Wittgenstein “under physical surveillance”. Wittgenstein’s lawyers claim that she was followed throughout Europe, and that her personal cellphones and computers were hacked by the CNI, or by private investigators. They also claim that a team of spies broke into her estate in Britain, and installed surveillance equipment through a “perfectly drilled hole” in her bedroom window.

The business consultant is now asking for a large sum —believed to be in the tens of millions of euros— to be paid to her as compensation for alleged damages caused to her reputation. She is also asking for a restraining order against Carlos, the CNI, and anyone working for the ex-king. The former monarch denies the charges.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 30 July 2021 | Permalink

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