News you may have missed #0279

  • Pakistani spy agencies drug political activists. Intelligence agencies in Pakistan are using drugs to extract information from political activists, with the cooperation of doctors on the payroll of the state, according to one of Pakistan’s leading newspapers.
  • Georgia jails alleged Russian spy. Vakhtang Maisaia, a military expert who advised Georgia’s mission to NATO, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for spying for Russia during the 2008 South Ossetia War. Last week, Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, son of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Georgia’s first post-communist president, was formally charged with “collaborating with Russian intelligence services”.

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Controversial Israel-Russia drone deal includes secret Iran clause

MK II UAV

MK II UAV

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
I have written before on this blog about a controversial $53 million agreement between Russia and Israel to provide Moscow with Israeli-made intelligence-gathering drones. The agreement, revealed last April, marked Israel’s first-ever sale of military systems to Russia, as well as Moscow’s first known purchase of a foreign weapons system. Last time I wroteintelNews received information that the Israeli move angered some US Pentagon officials. It turns out, however, that the Israeli-Russian deal contains a vital clause: the Israelis have agreed to provide Russia with as many intelligence-gathering drones as they want, and even allow them to reverse-engineer them, providing they cancel an agreement with Tehran to provide the Iranian government with Russian-made state-of-the-art air defense missiles. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0173

  • Russia, Georgia, in secret border reopening talks. Russia and Georgia, whose borders have been shut since the 2006 South Ossetia War, are in secret negotiations to reopen their only common border checkpoint, according to Russia’s Kommersant newspaper.
  • Why Shin Bet is taking over Israeli domestic investigations. Israel’s Shin Bet, the country’s domestic intelligence service, is overtaking the role of the police forces in solving criminal cases. The reasons are primarily political.
  • Interview with Bruce Schneier. A Q&A session with the cryptography legend, author of Secrets and Lies and Beyond Fear. Interesting quote: “[W]e now know that the NSA vacuums up all sorts of electronic communications, e-mail included. So maybe it would be a good idea for all of us to routinely encrypt our e-mail”.

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Russia accuses Georgian intelligence of aiding Islamists

A.V. Bortnikov

A.V. Bortnikov

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, has accused Georgian intelligence and security services of aiding anti-Moscow militants in Russia’s southern republics. Speaking before Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committee on Tuesday, Alexander V. Bortnikov said that the FSB’s counterintelligence department had seized a number of “audio reports” from Islamist militants active in the Russian Caucasus, which allegedly show that a number of “al-Qaeda emissaries” mediate between militants in Russia and “Georgian special services”. The latter, said Bortnikov, train militants from Chechnya, Dagestan and North Caucasus, and supply them with funds, weapons and explosives. But the Washington-based Radio Free Europe has quoted David Bakradze, the speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, as denying Bortnikov’s “groundless” allegations. Read more of this post

Georgia war prompted Russian purchase of Israeli drones

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Much was made last week of an agreement between the Russian government and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to purchase three Israeli-made intelligence-gathering drones. The Israeli company will receive $50 million to supply the Russian military with three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), namely a Bird-Eye 400 mini, an I-view MK 150 tactical, and a Searcher MK II medium-range UAV. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced the deal last Friday, saying it needed the new generation UAVs “to provide battlefield reconnaissance to the country’s armed forces”. What the Ministry didn’t say, however, is that it was prompted to purchase the Israeli-made drones after it saw its operations severely hampered by lack of aerial intelligence during the 2008 South Ossetia war last August. Read more of this post

Polish agency report refutes Russian link in shooting incident

On the evening of November 23, automatic gunfire erupted about 100 feet away from a motorcade carrying Mikhail Saakashvili, President of Georgia, and Lech Kaczynski, President of Poland. The latter was on a state visit to the former Soviet Republic. Nobody was hurt during the incident. Saakashvili was quick to blame Russian forces stationed in Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia, saying at a subsequent press conference that Russian troops are manned with “unpredictable people [who] weren’t happy to see our guest and they weren’t happy to see me either”. Read more of this post