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