French police officer charged in complex spy case involving Morocco, Algeria

Paris Orly AirportA French police officer has been charged with illegally sharing secret government documents in an espionage case involving France’s border police and diplomats from Morocco and Algeria. According to information published by the French daily Libération, the police officer supplied Moroccan intelligence with classified information about France’s border-control policies and procedures. He also gave the Moroccans information about the movements in France of Moroccan nationals and senior Algerian government officials.

According to the report by Libération, the police officer, identified only as “Charles D.”, was charged on May 31 of this year with corruption and violating secrecy rules. Court documents state that Charles D. gave away classified documents belonging to the Direction centrale de la police aux frontières (DCPAF), a directorate of the French National Police that is in charge of immigration control and border protection across France. He reportedly gave the documents to another man, identified in court documents as “Driss A.”, who worked at Paris’ Orly Airport. It is believed that Driss A. worked as director of the Orly branch of ICTS International, a Dutch-based company that provides security services in several European airports. It is also believed that Driss A. —a Moroccan-born French citizen— was secretly employed by the Deuxième Bureau, Morocco’s military intelligence service. It appears that the Moroccans compensated Charles D with free holidays in Morocco in exchange for his services.

Interestingly, when French counterintelligence officers raided Driss A.’s home in Paris, they found documents detailing the activities of senior Algerian government ministers during their official trips to France. The officials are identified in the documents as Algeria’s former Deputy Prime Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni, Higher Education Minister Tahar Hadjar, and Telecommunications Minister Hamid Grine. The documents appear to have been produced by Algerian intelligence and given initially to the embassy of Algeria in France. No explanation has been given about how these documents fell in Driss A.’s possession. Some observers assume that Driss A., acting as a Moroccan intelligence operative, must have acquired them from a source inside the Algerian embassy in Paris.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 07 September 2017 | Permalink

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‘End of an era’ as feared Algerian spy chief is removed from office

Mohamed MedièneIn an unprecedented development described by local media as the “end of an era”, the longtime director of Algeria’s main intelligence agency, and one of the country’s most powerful figures, has been removed from office. Until last Sunday, General Mohamed Mediène was described as the world’s longest-serving intelligence chief, having led Algeria’s Department of Intelligence and Security since 1990. Known by its initials, DRS, the organization grew rapidly in size and power during the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s. After an electoral victory by the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was quashed in a military-led coup, General Mediène took advantage of the country’s fragile security situation to strengthen the DRS and his own political influence. He became a staunch ally of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and created what some have called “a state within a state”.

The general cultivated an aura of mystique, going to great pains to avoid publicity. His name did not appear in print until 2014, while a photograph of him was published for the first time in an Algerian paper on Sunday. According to The New York Times, Mediène’s many critics claim that he was able to hang on to power for so long by systematically “blackmailing politicians and other public figures” throughout his tenure. But the General’s removal from DRS was announced unexpectedly on Sunday, ostensibly in fulfilment of President Bouteflika’s stated goal of imposing more civilian control of the Algerian military. Mediène’s sudden removal follows the arrest in August of a number of other senior intelligence figures, including General Abdelkader Ait-Ouarabi, who served as DRS’s senior counterterrorism official for two decades under Mediène.

Many believe that the removal of DRS’ senior leadership was sparked by a widening rift between Bouteflika and Mediène. Last year, when Bouteflika announced that he would run for a fourth term, Mediène let it be known that he did not approve of the president’s decision. The ailing leader, who is 78, suffered a severe stroke in 2013, and has avoided public appearances since that time, giving rise to constant rumors about possible successors, or even machinations for coups by members of the armed forces. The Reuters news agency reported on Sunday that General Mediène has been replaced by General Athmane Tartag, who has served as President Bouteflika’s security advisor for several years.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 16 September 2015 | Permalink

French, US intelligence intensify 23-year hunt for Algerian militant

Mokhtar BelmokhtarBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Although many Westerners are aware of the ongoing upsurge in al-Qaeda-linked activity in northwest Africa, few are able to point to the individual leaders behind it. To an important extent, Islamist-inspired groups in the region, notably Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) mirror the decentralized insurgency model developed by Islamist groups in Iraq and elsewhere during the past decade. However, the decentralized nature of the insurgency in northwest Africa does not necessarily entail the complete absence of principal figures in the movement. One case in point is that of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who leads an AQIM-linked brigade known as al-Muaqioon Biddam (Those Who Sign With Blood). Born in 1972, Belmokhtar is an Algerian nomad who has reportedly been tracked by the United States Central Intelligence Agency for over 20 years. In the late 1980s, Belmokhtar traveled to Pakistan and then to Afghanistan, where he was taught the art of insurgency at al-Qaeda-funded training camps. Following the Soviet withdrawal, he left Afghanistan and returned to his homeland, where he joined the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria (GIA) and fought in the brutal 10-year civil war that ripped the country apart. In 2003, two years after the end of the war, Belmokhtar and his militia were pushed into northern Mali by the Algerian military. He soon set up camps in the area and used them to stage abduction raids into southern Algeria, targeting foreign oil workers and tourists. The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to the US department of State, in less than a decade, Belmokhtar’s militia managed to raise approximately $50 million through kidnapping foreigners and extorting cocaine smugglers traveling through Mali on their way to Europe. His big break came in 2011, when the collapse of the Libyan regime resulted in the unprecedented availability of illicit weapons previously in the hands of Muammar al-Gaddafi’s army. Belmokhtar’s militia became one of the principal buyers of Libyan weapons available in huge quantities in the black market. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #745

Sir Dominic AsquithBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Algeria sentences man to 20 years for spying. Noureddine Benziane, an Algerian psychologist and expert on anti-terrorism, has been sentenced in absentia to 20 years in jail on conviction of spying after a stay in Iraq. According to the charge sheet, Benziane went to Iraq on humanitarian missions several times between 2005 and 2007, but he allegedly founded a training camp for potential suicide bombers of several nationalities. Benziane later acknowledged contacting several diplomatic missions in Algiers to give them details of the information he had recovered. However, he neglected to inform the Algerian security services of his findings, according to his prosecutors.
►►Egypt pulls TV ads warning foreigners may be spies. An unnamed Egyptian media official says authorities have pulled a television advertisement that warned against talking to foreigners who may be spies, after criticism that they fueled xenophobia. The official said Sunday that the ads were aired on state TV and private networks for a few days before Minister of Information Ahmed Anis ordered them off the air.
►►British diplomat attacked in Libya. Britain’s ambassador to Libya, Sir Dominic Asquith, was in a convoy of cars that came under attack in the eastern city of Benghazi on Monday, in what British media described as the most serious assault on foreign targets in Libya to date. The attack came amid mounting concern for the welfare of an Australian lawyer and three colleagues working for the International Criminal Court after they were detained in Libya. They were accused of spying when they visited Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

Hundreds of European mercenaries ‘fighting for Gaddafi’

Libya

Libya

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Hundreds of European mercenaries, including large numbers of European Union citizens, have voluntarily enrolled in the armed forces of the Libyan government, and are fighting under the command of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi. According to criminologist Michel Koutouzis, the Greek CEO of a French-registered consulting firm with connections to Libya, up to 500 European soldiers-of-fortune have been hired by the Libyan government to provide “special services”, particularly in heavy weaponry and attack helicopters. Koutouzis says that most of the European mercenaries, who sell their services for thousands of dollars a day, come from Eastern Europe, especially Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Serbia, but there are also French, British and Greek nationals currently in Libya. He also claims that Gaddafi is supported by serving military personnel from Russia, Syria and Algeria. It is believed that the Gaddafi camp is also employing thousands of non-specialist mercenaries from various African nations, including Somalia, Mali, Niger, Chad, and the Central African Republic. Unconfirmed reports have surfaced in the American press that the Gaddafi forces are employing female snipers from Colombia. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #480 (CIA edition)

  • Cuban-American exile leader funded ex-CIA agent on trial. Oscar De Rojas, the bookkeeper for New Jersey business mogul Arnoldo Monzon, who was once a director of the powerful Cuban American National Foundation, testified Thursday that he wired as much as $9,600 in 1997 to Ramon Medina, one of the aliases used by Luis Posada Carriles, an ex-CIA operative currently on trial for perjury and immigration fraud.
  • Ex-CIA station chief sentenced for sexual abuse. Former senior CIA officer Andrew Warren has been sentenced by a US court to more than five years in prison for sexually abusing a woman in Algeria, while he was the CIA station chief in that country.
  • Analysis: What should the CIA be doing in Libya? US President Barack Obama said on Thursday that he had “instructed […] all those who are involved in international affairs to examine a full range of options” on Libya, which presumably includes the CIA and other special operations assets. But what should the CIA be doing in Libya, if anything at all?

News you may have missed #363

  • Who killed ex-Mossad agent Ashraf Marwan? Dr. Marwan, son-in-law of the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who spied for Israel after 1969, fell to his death from the balcony of his London home in June 2007. British investigators have now announced a new inquiry into the circumstances of his death.
  • Ex-CIA agent accused of rape says he was set up. Andrew M. Warren, the CIA’s former Algiers station chief, who is accused of drugging and raping two Algerian women at his official residence, says the Algerian government set him up in a honey trap.
  • US Senate candidate admits false military intel award. Rep. Mark Kirk, a Navy reservist who was elected to Congress in 2001, and is currently a Republican candidate for Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, has admitted to falsely claiming he received the US Navy’s Intelligence Officer of the Year award in 2000.

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