News you may have missed #804

Jeffrey Paul DelisleBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►CIA officer reportedly among dead in Afghanistan bombing. The attack, which was carried out in a remote area of Kandahar Province, occurred when a guard working for the Afghan intelligence service detonated a suicide vest as a delegation of American coalition members and Afghan intelligence officials arrived at the intelligence office in the Maruf District. The blast killed Ghulam Rasool, the deputy intelligence director for Kandahar Province, two of his bodyguards, another Afghan intelligence official, and some Americans, including the CIA officer. A spokeswoman for the CIA declined to comment.
►►Canadian intel officer was ‘on Russian payroll for years’. Former navy intelligence officer Jeffrey Paul Delisle, who pleaded guilty this month to spying, was leaking secrets to Russia, sending classified data about Canada as well as the United States, according to David Jacobson, the US ambassador in Ottawa. So far, the Canadian government has refrained from revealing the identity of “the foreign entity” to whom Delisle passed the classified information. Ambassador Jacobson refused to specify the nature of the information, saying only that “there was a lot of highly classified material”.
►►Panama wants to adopt euro as legal tender. Panama, one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, wants to adopt the euro as legal tender to run alongside the country’s US dollar economy. Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli made the request to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to Europe. The president indicated he had every faith that the crisis in the eurozone would soon be at an end, adding that Panama “would be possibly the only country in the world to have two currencies, the euro and the dollar”.

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News you may have missed #716 (analysis edition)

Mordechai VanunuBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Kabul attacks show intel failures in Afghanistan. Dozens, possibly hundreds of people would have been involved in training, equipping and then infiltrating into the heart of Kabul the large number of insurgents who were prepared to fight to a certain death in the Afghan capital last Sunday. Yet neither Afghan nor foreign intelligence operatives appeared to have any idea that an unprecedented wave of attacks was about to engulf both Kabul and several other key locations around the country. So it seems that Afghan President Hamid Karzai may have a point when he says that the “infiltration in Kabul and other provinces is an intelligence failure for us and especially for NATO and should be seriously investigated”.
►►Report claims China spies on US space technology. China is stealing US military and civilian space technology in an effort to disrupt US access to intelligence, navigation and communications satellites, according to a report authored by the State and Defense Departments. The report (.pdf) argues China should be excluded from recommendations made to the US government to ease restrictions on exports of communications and remote-sensing satellites and equipment. Chinese officials have denied the report’s allegations, calling it a “Cold War ghost”.
►►The long and sordid history of sex and espionage. Using seduction to extract valuable information is as old as the Old Testament —literally— Whether from conviction or for profit, women —and men— have traded sex for secrets for centuries. The Cold War provided plenty of opportunities for so-called “honey-pot” scandals. Perhaps the most dramatic case of seduction in recent times involved Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu. In 1986 he visited London and provided The Sunday Times with dozens of photographs of Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons program. But Mossad was on his trail and a female agent —Cheryl Ben Tov— befriended him (reportedly bumping into him at a cigarette kiosk in London’s Leicester Square). She lured him to Rome for a weekend, where he was drugged and spirited to Israel.

News you may have missed #690

Katya ZatuliveterBy IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
►►Interview with Katia Zatuliveter. Just over three months ago Katia Zatuliveter was fighting to clear her name over claims she was a Russian spy who had passed British military secrets to Moscow. Now, in her first newspaper interview since winning her appeal against deportation from the UK, Katia Zatuliveter has told The Daily Telegraph why she does not support Vladimir Putin.
►►US Special Forces in Afghanistan to transfer to CIA. Top US Pentagon officials are considering putting elite special operations troops under CIA control in Afghanistan after 2014. If the plan were adopted, the US and Afghanistan could say there are no more U.S. troops on the ground in the war-torn country because once the SEALs, Rangers and other elite units are assigned to CIA control, even temporarily, they are not considered soldiers.
►►Indian army accused of spying on government officials. The Indian army is accused of using two surveillance vehicles to snoop near the offices and houses of senior Indian Defense Ministry officials. The vehicles with “off the air interceptors” were alleged to be parked in various localities in the New Delhi. Similar equipment is said to be used by the National Technical Research Organisation to listen to conversations without bugging the premises. The Defense Ministry has reportedly ordered a probe by the country’s Intelligence Bureau.

News you may have missed #679

Salem al-HassiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►New spy chief in Libya. Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council yesterday appointed a lifelong opponent of slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as the country’s new intelligence chief. Salem al-Hassi, who was involved in a bid to assassinate Gaddafi in 1984, was appointed as the intelligence chief at a meeting of the council.
►►Anonymous hackers release German classified information. Hackers from the group Anonymous said last week they had accessed classified German files and posted them online, revealing details of the country’s military operations in Afghanistan. The military documents were collected for an inquiry, now finished, into a September 2009 airstrike by US jets under German orders that killed more than 140 Taliban fighters and Afghan civilians. Anonymous said it obtained the data from a server at the Bundestag  (German parliament).
►►Did Chinese espionage lead to F-35 delays? Did Chinese cyber spying cause the United States’ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s cost spikes and production delays? This is the question being asked by US Pentagon budget officials, according to industry magazine Aviation Week. Chinese spies apparently hacked into secure conference calls and listened to meetings discussing the classified technologies aboard the jets. In particular, China may have stolen info about the F-35’s secure communications and antenna systems, leading to costly software rewrites and other redesigns to compromised parts of the plane.

Revealed: Afghan government at war with ‘CIA vigilante group’

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Very little has been written about the Kandahar Strike Force, a controversial CIA-funded vigilante group operating in Afghanistan’s Kandahar, Zabul and Uruzgan provinces. In 2009, The New York Times reported that the late Ahmed Wali Karzai, notorious drug lord and younger brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, helped the CIA run the group. But ever since Wali Karzai’s assassination, in July of this year, the CIA-operated group appears to be engaged in a brutal war, not with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, but with provisional Afghan authorities. The Christian Science monitor spoke to the former leader of the Kandahar Strike Force, Atal Afghanzai, who is currently in prison, having been convicted of shooting dead a senior Afghan police commander in broad daylight. The group is made up of elite members of Afghanistan’s regular army, selected by CIA case officers and trained by US Special Forces personnel in Kandahar’s Camp Gecko, a former al-Qaeda base built by Osama bin Laden’s forces in 1996. The group operates outside the institutional parameters of the Afghan government, and answers directly to the CIA, says The Monitor, which claims to have corroborated this information with “US diplomats, other Western officials, and Afghan authorities”. The group’s imprisoned former leader told the newspaper that he and his men were paid directly by the CIA, and that they were transported by United States Blackhawk helicopters to various locations around the country, where they were expected to conduct “raids on Taliban targets at a moment’s notice”. Afghanzai claims that the group’s operations were so effective that they received letters of appreciation by no other than Hamid Karzai. But the idyllic relationship between the Kandahar Strike Force and the Afghan government appears to have ended, as members of the group are now accused of “extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and larceny”. Read more of this post

Bodyguard who killed Karzai’s brother was CIA agent

Wali Karzai

Wali Karzai

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The bodyguard who killed Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother was a trusted aide of British and American intelligence and had worked with US Special Forces in Afghanistan, before turning on his employer, according to American and British news media. Ahmed Wali Karzai, influential Afghan drug lord and CIA agent, was shot dead on July 12 by no other than his trusted bodyguard, Sardar Mohammad. The killing shocked Afghan and American officials, who believed Mohammad’s trustworthiness and loyalty to be beyond reproach. Initial reports blamed Karzai’s killing on internal feuds that often feature in bloody Afghan politics. But these early reports may need to be revised following the revelation in The Washington Post that Mohammad had been working closely for years with the CIA and US Special Forces in Afghanistan, prior to turning against his boss. According to the paper, not only was Mohammad working with the CIA, but two of his brother-in-laws served in the Kandahar Strike Force, a notorious paramilitary unit trained and armed by the CIA. Based on this new information, The Post explains Karzai’s killing as yet another spectacular triumph by Taliban intelligence, who must have managed to recruit Mohammad and turn him against the US-supported Afghan government. Commenting on Mohammad’s CIA background, an unnamed “Western intelligence analyst” told British newspaper The Independent that Karzai’s assassination is indicative of the Taliban’s “increasingly sophisticated intelligence apparatus” in Afghanistan. Western intelligence agencies “probably […] underestimate the [Taliban’s] intelligence components”, said the analyst, even though the latter “do have dedicated intelligence officers. And that’s not just about gathering information but also about infiltration, using whatever combination of blackmail or ideological levers [they need to]”. But there is also another possibility, which neither The Post nor The Independent appear to entertain: namely that Mohammad was still acting under the commands of the CIA when he killed Karzai. Read more of this post

Largest Afghan narcotrafficker was CIA, DEA informant

Haji Juma Khan

Haji Juma Khan

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The history of operational collision between the Central Intelligence Agency and illicit narcotics traders is both long and largely documented. But new revelations published in The New York Times this week come to add a new chapter in this ever-expanding saga. The revelations this time concern Haji Juma Khan, perhaps the most notorious of Afghanistan’s drug lords, who has been described by US federal officials as arguably the most dangerous narcotrafficker in Central Asia. In 2008, Khan was finally arrested in New York, where he was charged with conspiracy to fund terrorist operations through trading in narcotics. American prosecutors allege that Khan literally “helped keep the Taliban in business”, providing them with weapons and cash on a systematic basis. But The Times reveal that, over a number of years, Khan also acted as an informant for both the CIA and the Drug Enforcement Administration and was “paid a large amount of cash” in return for his services. Read more of this post