Names of intelligence officials, agents, appear in Panama Papers

Panama PapersThe massive data leak of documents belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has revealed the names of intelligence officials and agents form several countries, who employed front companies to conceal their financial activities. According to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which was the initial recipient of the largest data leak in history last summer, the list of names includes intelligence officials from the Middle East, Latin America and Africa, as well as “close intermediaries of the [United States] Central Intelligence Agency”.

Referred to as ‘the Panama Papers’, the massive leak amounts to over 11.5 million internal files from Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s most prolific registrars and administrators of shell companies in offshore locations. Throughout its history, the company has created more than 300,000 shell companies, most of them in offshore tax havens like the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, or Guernsey. Its clients are offered the ability to incorporate a generic-sounding company and headquarter it in an offshore tax haven. In exchange for an annual fee, Mossack Fonseca provides the company with a sham director and shareholders, thus concealing the true owner and actual beneficiary of the business.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung said on Monday that senior intelligence officials from Rwanda and Colombia are listed as Mossack Fonseca customers, but did not report the names of the individuals. It did, however, single out the late Sheikh Kamal Adham, who was director of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate in the 1960s and 1970s. During his 14-year directorship of the GID, the agency became a leading intermediary between the CIA and Arab intelligence agencies, notably those of Egypt and Iraq. Sheikh Adham was also a personal friend of CIA Director George Bush, who was later elected US president.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Sheikh Adham is one of many individuals with close CIA links whose names appear in the Panama Papers. Another is Farhad Azima, an Iranian-born American businessman, who is rumored to have leased aircraft to the CIA in the 1980s. The American intelligence agency is said to have used the aircraft, which belonged to Azima’s Kansas City, Missouri-headquartered Global International Airways, to transport weapons to Iran. The secret transfers were part of what later became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, in which US officials secretly sold weapons to Iran in return for the release of American hostages held by Iran-linked groups in the Middle East. The funds acquired from these weapons sales were then secretly funneled to the Contras, a medley of anti-communist paramilitary groups fighting the Sandinista-led government of Nicaragua.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 13 April 2016 | Permalink

Saudi ex-spy director urges Gulf states to join Iran nuclear talks

The influential former director of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency has urged Arab oil states to participate directly in the ongoing international negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program. Nearly a decade of diplomatic deadlock on this contentious issue appeared to come to an end on November 24, when a preliminary deal was struck between the Islamic Republic and a group of nations that have come to be known as P5+1. The group represents the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council —the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France— plus Germany. Under the deal, Tehran has provisionally agreed to limit the scope of its nuclear energy program in exchange for the P5+1 group of nations taking initiative to have certain economic sanctions on Iran lifted. Several Middle Eastern nations, including Israel and Iran’s primary energy rival, Saudi Arabia, initially dismissed the agreement, causing British foreign secretary William Hague to warn that critics of the deal should “confine their criticism to rhetoric”. On Sunday, however, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, said the kingdom should be among several Arab oil states that must have a seat at the table during the negotiations with Iran. Prince Turki, who is the youngest son of the late King Faisal, directed the kingdom’s intelligence agency, the Al Mukhabarat Al-A’amah, from 1979 until 2001, following which he briefly became ambassador to Britain and the United States. Speaking at the Manama Dialogue in the Bahraini capital on Sunday, the Prince urged that the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program should “not be limited to the P5+1”. Instead, he said, the Gulf Cooperation Council should be involved. He was referring to the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (commonly referred to as GCC), a political and economic union of Arab oil states bordering the Persian Gulf, which is led by Saudi Arabia. Read more of this post

Saudi diplomat shot dead in Yemen by gunmen disguised as soldiers

An official at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Yemen has been shot dead along with this Yemeni bodyguard by a group of gunmen disguised as government security forces. According to television station al-Arabiya, which is owned by the Saudi government, the diplomat and his bodyguard were killed on Wednesday when their car was “raked with gunfire” in the heart of Yemeni capital Sana’a. Later in the day, the incident was confirmed by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which identified the assassinated diplomat as Sergeant Khaled Shobeikan al-Anzi. IntelNews understands that al-Anzi worked as an aide to the Military Attaché at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Sana’a. There are rumors, however, that his diplomatic credentials may have been a cover for his intelligence work for Al-Mukhabarat Al-A’amah, Saudi Arabia’s military intelligence agency. Sources in Yemen report that the attack took place in Haddah, one of Sana’a’s more exclusive districts, which houses the majority of foreign embassies and diplomatic compounds in the capital. It is also worth noting that the assailants were reportedly “dressed in the uniforms of [Yemen’s] Central Security Organization”, a 50,000-strong National Guard-type force that operates under the direction of the Ministry of the Interior. Wednesday’s assassination of the Saudi diplomat is the latest incident in a series of attacks against diplomatic targets in Sana’a, which have included employees in the British and American embassies there. In late March of this year, Islamist militants kidnapped Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Consul in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden, who remains in captivity. Read more of this post

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