News you may have missed #654

Aleksandr ShlyakhturovBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Anonymous hacks intel analysis firm StratFor. The loose-knit hacking movement Anonymous claimed Sunday via Twitter that it had stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to clients of intelligence analysis firm Stratfor. The company had apparently failed to encrypt its customers’ credit card account information. The hackers announced their intention to use the credit cards for charitable donations.
►►CIA Inspector General clears assistance with NYPD. Back in August, The CIA denied allegations by the Associated Press that it helped the New York Police Department conduct covert surveillance on New York Muslims. The agency said the report “mischaracterized the nature and scope” of the CIA’s support for the NYPD. Now a report by the office of the CIA Inspector General, the CIA’s internal watchdog, has concluded that there was “no evidence that any part of the agency’s support to the NYPD constituted ‘domestic spying’”. The Associated Press notes that it is not clear if this report opens the door for other municipal police departments nationwide to work closely with the CIA in the war on terrorism.
►►Russia replaces head of military spy agency. After denying initial rumors, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Monday that “Major General Igor Sergun has been appointed head of the GRU [Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate] through a Kremlin decree”. Sergun replaces Aleksandr Shlyakhturov, who had spearheaded a shake-up of the service since his appointment in 2009. The state RIA Novosti news agency quoted a ministry spokesman suggesting that Shlyakhturov had reached retirement age. No other reason was given for the move. Incidentally, if you are wondering how spies are faring in Dmitri Medvedev’s and Vladimir Putin’s administration, read this enlightening analysis by Mark Galeotti, Professor of Global Affairs at New York University.

News you may have missed #612 (analysis edition)

Cevat Ones

Cevat Ones

►►What is a senior CIA clandestine officer doing at NYPD? Three months ago, one of the CIA’s most experienced clandestine operatives started work inside the New York Police Department. His title is special assistant to the deputy commissioner of intelligence. On that much, everyone agrees. Exactly what he’s doing there, however, is much less clear.
►►Iranian plot shows even super spies have bad days. The alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States may have revealed the biggest secret of all –intelligence agencies mess up and do not always live up to the James Bond ideal.
►►Former spy makes plea for peace in Turkey. Cevat Ones, former deputy chief of MİT, Turkey’s leading spy agency, speaks candidly to Canada’s Globe & Mail newspaper about the state of Turkey’s internal security and foreign policy.

News you may have missed #577

Waihopai base

Waihopai base

►►Interview with Michael Hayden. The former director of the CIA and the NSA gave a lengthy interview in preparation for his keynote speech at the Raleigh Spy Conference. Among other things, he says that he does “not immediately conclude that senior levels of the Pakistani government knew about” Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts.
►►CIA denies helping police spy on NY Muslims. The Central Intelligence Agency is denying a news report that it helped the New York Police Department conduct covert surveillance on Muslims. The agency said suggestions that it engaged in domestic spying were “simply wrong” and that the report “mischaracterized the nature and scope” of the CIA’s support for the New York police.
►►Spy base reservoir not a pool after all... A journalist at New Zealand’s Marlborough Express newspaper noticed what looked suspiciously like a swimming pool on a satellite photo (pictured) of the super-secret Waihopai listening base near Blenheim. Do spies go swimming on the base, he asked? It turns out they don’t. According to Government Communications Security Bureau Waihopai station chief Chris Farrow, the landmark is in fact a water reservoir, to be used in case of fire.

News you may have missed #376

  • Dubai plans more cameras after Mossad operation. Dubai will beef up its surveillance capability by installing more cameras around the city-state after the Israeli hit squad that murdered a senior Hamas operative was caught on a hotel video. As intelNews has reported before, Mossad has really helped the Gulf surveillance industry.
  • Iran hangs ‘spy’ with alleged US connections. Iran hanged Sunni militant leader Abdolmalek Rigi last weekend for allegedly having connections with foreign secret services, including “intelligence officers of the US and Israel working under the cover of NATO and certain Arab countries” as well as “anti-revolutionary expatriate groups such as the MEK”, the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran.
  • Analysis: FBI use of Muslim informers now part of daily life. Gathering information on people in Muslim communities in the United States has become part of daily life. After 9/11, all data is considered useful. But, Stephan Salisbury of The Philadelphia Inquirer asks, is that how America should be?

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News you may have missed #321 (CIA edition)

  • Uruguay ex-president sent to prison for 1973 coup. Declassified documents show that, at the time of the coup, Juan María Bordaberry told the US ambassador that “Uruguay’s democratic traditions and institutions […] were themselves the real threat to democracy”.
  • FSB ‘dropped the ball’ in Moscow metro bombings. Two Russian intelligence observers argue that Russia’s new strategy has shifted toward preventing coordinated actions by large groups of militants, which has come at the expense of taking measures to prevent individual suicide attacks, such as those of last Monday in Moscow.
  • Calls for expanded DoJ probe of FBI killing of Detroit imam. The US Justice Department is probing the killing of Detroit-area Islamic cleric Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was shot dead during an FBI raid shortly after being indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit federal crimes. The FBI said Abdullah was shot after he opened fire, but critics say he may have been targeted for assassination.

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US mosque says FBI informant responsible for shootout killing

Luqman Ameen Abdullah

L.A. Abdullah

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Community relations between the FBI and American Muslim groups took a turn for the worse yesterday, after an African-American Muslim congregation in Detroit accused a Bureau informant of luring a Mosque member to his death. Luqman Ameen Abdullah, leader of the self-described Ummah Mosque in Detroit, was killed in a shootout with FBI agents on October 28, during a raid at a warehouse reportedly aimed at recovering stolen goods. But Mosque worshipers claim that Abdullah was led to the warehouse by a man going by the name of Jabril, who they say was an FBI informant. The man allegedly infiltrated the Mosque for several months leading to the shootout, but disappeared following the FBI raid. The FBI has admitted it employed three informants to spy on the group, but has refused to reveal details, and is now seeking a protective order to shield the informants’ identities. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0209

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News you may have missed #0207

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FBI in hot seat over controversial use of informants

Craig Monteilh

Craig Monteilh

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, America’s primary domestic counterintelligence agency, is facing a storm of criticism over allegedly using informants to spy on Muslim and ultra right-wing groups. The most controversial of the two cases is arguably that of New Jersey talk radio host and blogger Harold “Hal” Turner, who has been described as a vocal supporter of white supremacist groups. Turner was charged last June for arguing on his blog that three Chicago federal appeals court judges “deserve to be killed”, and for posting photographs of the judges along with their work addresses and an area map of the Chicago federal courthouse. If convicted, Turner faces a $250,000 restitution fine and up to 10 years in prison. What is interesting, however, is that Turner told a judge that he was a paid FBI informant, code-named “Valhalla”, and was trained by the Bureau to infiltrate and monitor white supremacist groups. The FBI denied any connection to Turner, but The Bergen Record newspaper in New Jersey gained access to court records and verified the truth in Turner’s claims. Read more of this post

Is Pakistani-American insurgent a rogue CIA agent?

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Earlier this month US authorities said they wouldn’t let an Indian intelligence team question Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley, who was arrested by the FBI in October for plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. The Indians said they wanted to talk to Headley, born Daood Gillani, about his reported association with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group responsible for several high-profile attacks inside India. But US officials blamed “bureaucratic” and “procedural” hurdles for denying Indian investigators access to Headley. Considering the close security ties between Washington and New Delhi, intelligence observers were surprised by the US move. Why did the FBI bar Indian intelligence from questioning Headley? Some Indian commentators suggest an intriguing theory: that Headley may be “an undercover agent whom the [US] authorities are shielding from the media and the hapless Indian investigators who were told to take a hike when they came to [Washington to] interview [him]”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0184

  • Rumors of joint US-Israel-Egypt-Jordan spy meeting. Israeli site DEBKAfile is one of several Middle Eastern news outlets alleging that a secret meeting was held earlier this month between senior intelligence officials of the US, Israel, Egypt and Jordan.
  • Germany won’t prosecute suspect in Litvinenko murder. Germany has dropped attempts to prosecute Dmitri Kovtun, a former Soviet military intelligence officer implicated in the 2006 killing in London of Russian former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. Meanwhile the primary suspect in the case, former KGB bodyguard Andrey Lugovoy, who lives in Russia, said he may be ready to face questioning in the UK “under certain conditions”.
  • FBI charged terrorism suspect after trying to recruit him. Tarek Mehanna, a Massachusetts man accused of plotting to kill Americans, was charged by the FBI only after he refused to work as an informant against Muslims, according to his lawyer. This is not the first time such allegations have surfaced.

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News you may have missed #0180

  • UK spy tip led to Zazi arrest in New York. British spies tipped off their American counterparts to what has been described as “the most serious terrorist plot foiled in the US since 9/11”, which led to the recent arrest of Najibullah Zazi in New York.
  • US prevents Indian spies’ access to jailed Islamist. US authorities won’t let an Indian intelligence team question American Muslim David Coleman Headley, who was arrested last month for traveling to Denmark in order to plot an attack on a newspaper targeted by Islamic extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, because it published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. Sources blamed “bureaucratic” and “procedural” hurdles. Hmmm…
  • Largest military deal in Israeli history taking shape. The largest defense deal in Israel’s history, the purchase of 25 F-35 stealth fighters, is advancing, as talks continue between Israel, the Pentagon, and Lockheed Martin.

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News you may have missed #0062

  • Hacking, Lock-Picking, Booze and Bacon. Excellent illustrated review of some of the highlights of DefCon 17, the world’s largest hacking convention, which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Were NC terror suspect’s stories an exaggeration? There are more doubts over the genuineness of the Afghan exploits of Daniel Boyd, who was recently arrested along with seven others in North Carolina on domestic terrorism charges.
  • Ex-DHS boss comes out in support of controversial NSA project. Michael Chertoff, who directed the US Department of Homeland Security under the Bush Administration, has come out in support of EINSTEIN 3, a rumored joint project between the NSA and US telecommunication service providers, which requires the latter to route government data carried through their networks to the NSA, via secret rooms installed in exchange sites. Critics have condemned the project as “antithetical to basic civil liberties and privacy protections” in the United States.

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FBI accused of infiltrating California mosques

Niazi in court

Niazi in court

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Several American Muslim groups have said they are considering severing ties with the FBI, which they accuse of planting spies and informants in mosques and Islamic centers throughout California. In a statement issued last Tuesday, the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections accused the Bureau of employing “McCarthy-era tactics”, including sending “agents provocateur” to Muslim communities and blackmailing mosque members into becoming informants. The Task Force’s statement cites the case of Ahmadullah Niazi, a naturalized citizen of Afghan descent and a member of the Islamic Center of Irvine, who was arrested last February by federal agents. According to the statement, Niazi claimed he was arrested after refusing to work as an informant for FBI agents, who threatened to make his life “a living hell” if he failed to cooperate. Read more of this post