Analysis: What is the CIA doing in Egypt?

Egypt

Egypt

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Every time there is a popular uprising anywhere in the Muslim world, the minds of American intelligence planners go immediately to 1979, when the Iranian Revolution tore down almost overnight one of Washington closest allies in the Middle East. By ignoring the immense unpopularity of the Shah’s brutal regime, and by limiting its Iranian contacts among the pro-Shah elites in the country, the CIA was caught completely in the dark as the Islamic revolution unfolded. Could the same be happening now in Egypt? Hopefully not, says The Washington Post’s veteran intelligence correspondent Jeff Stein. As in the case of Iran under the Shah, the US has stood by the 33-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, choosing to abide by the simplistic dogma of ‘either secular repression or anti-American Islamism’. But, unlike 1970s Iran, one would hope that US intelligence agencies have been able to develop useful contacts across the fragmented but dynamic and energized Egyptian opposition community, says Stein, quoting former US Defense Intelligence Agency official Jeffrey White. It is unlikely that the CIA and other agencies have fully embraced persistent calls, such as those by Emile Nakhleh, former head of the CIA’s program on political Islam, to develop trustworthy contacts inside the Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood, as well as groups close to it, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Read more of this post

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Interview with alleged CIA spy in Iran

A Time to Betray

A Time to Betray

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
US government-owned Radio Liberty has aired an interview with an Iranian defector who claims to have worked as a CIA agent in the 1980s and early 1990s. The defector, who goes by the pseudonym Reza Kahlili (codename ‘Wally’), has authored what appears to be a CIA-sanctioned book, entitled A Time to Betray, in which he says he was a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The IRGC is a sizable branch of the Iranian military that is ideologically committed to the defense of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Kahlili, who now lives in California, says he concluded his studies in the US and returned to Iran shortly after the Revolution. But he quickly became disillusioned with the Islamic regime, and in 1981 met with the CIA in the United States and offered them his services. Read more of this post

Analysis: Iranian spymaster a major player in Iraq

Suleimani

Qassem Suleimani

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Newsweek’s Chris Dickey has penned an accurate analysis on Qassem Suleimani, leader of the mighty Quds Force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) unit tasked with exporting the Iranian Revolution abroad. Relatively little is known about Suleimani, a soft-spoken intelligence operative who oversees Iran’s links with Shiite movements in the Middle East and beyond. His influence inside Iraq has grown in recent years. Although the Quds Force intelligence network in Iraq was solid before the 2003 US invasion, the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime turned Suleimani’s agency to what is probably the most powerful organized intelligence force in the country. Indeed, Suleimani’s links with the Kurdish north and with the Shiite paramilitary groups in Iraq is so encompassing that, as Dickey correctly notes, “this 53-year-old Iranian general could pull the strings that make or break the new government in Baghdad”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0280

  • Interview with Canadian ambassador who worked for the CIA. Iran’s Press TV has published an extensive interview with Ken Taylor, Canada’s former ambassador to Iran, who recently admitted that he secretly worked for the CIA in the late 1970s, after the US embassy in Iran was taken over by students during the Islamic Revolution. Part one of the interview is here. Parts two and three here, and parts four, five and six here.
  • US Pentagon’s black budget tops $56 billion. About $56 billion of the US Defense Department’s publicized 2010 budget goes simply to “classified programs” or to projects known only by their code names, like “Chalk Eagle” and “Link Plumeria”. That’s the Pentagon’s black budget, an it’s about $6 billion more than last year.
  • CIA agents working for private companies on the side. In the midst of two US wars and the fight against al-Qaeda, the CIA is offering operatives a chance to peddle their expertise to private companies on the side –a policy that gives financial firms and hedge funds access to the nation’s top-level intelligence talent.

News you may have missed #0275

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Canada’s ambassador in Iran was ‘CIA asset’ in 1970s

Ken Taylor

Ken Taylor

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Canada’s former ambassador to Iran has admitted that he and the embassy’s head of security secretly worked for the CIA in the late 1970s. Ambassador Ken Taylor and Canadian fellow-diplomat Jim Edward became the CIA’s “most valuable asset[s]” in Iran, following the November 4, 1979, seizure of the US embassy in Tehran by student groups allied to the Islamic Revolution. The revelation was made public last weekend in a new book entitled Our Man in Tehran, by Trent University historian Robert Wright,  which examines intelligence aspects of the Iranian Revolution. In it, Dr. Wright says that ambassador Taylor became “the de facto CIA station chief” in the Iranian capital, after he and Edward accepted an American request to do so, which was communicated personally to Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark by US President Jimmy Carter. Until he left the country, on January 27, 1980, Taylor and Edward provided the US with “aggressive intelligence” and an operations base for CIA agents, authorized the CIA’s use of false Canadian travel documents, and helped the Agency plan an “armed incursion” into Iran. Read more of this post

Secret UK envoy convinced Iran Shah to stay away in 1979

Sir Denis Wright

Sir Denis Wright

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The British government sent a former diplomat, disguised as an old friend of the Iranian Shah, to convince the deposed monarch to stay away from the UK, after he was forced to abandon Iran in 1979. The information has been made available in a series of official government documents recently declassified by Britain’s Foreign Office. Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the US-backed Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, abandoned his throne and ended up in the Bahamas, a former British colony which had gained its independence in 1973. But Britain’s Labour government feared that the deposed monarch aimed to live in England, something that Prime Minister James Callaghan considered a potentially damaging decision by “an immensely controversial figure in Iran”. Read more of this post