News you may have missed #824 (India edition)

Tony MendezBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►CIA honed ARGO exfiltration skills in India. The Oscar-winning movie Argo has popularized the 1980 exfiltration by the CIA of a group of American diplomats from Tehran. But few know that Tony Mendez, the CIA officer in charge of the Iran operation, cut his teeth exfiltrating CIA targets in India. In his book, titled Argo, Mendez mentions the 1970 exfiltration of a Soviet defector in India codenamed Nestor. He claims that Nestor was a “huge catch” for the CIA, as he provided the Agency with “invaluable intelligence on the KGB’s operations in Central and Southeast Asia”.
►►Ex-CIA officer says al-Qaeda wanted India-Pakistan nuclear war. In his latest book, Avoiding Armageddon: America, India, and Pakistan to the Brink and Back, former CIA officer Bruce Riedel says al-Qaeda helped plan the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Its goal was to “spark a nuclear war between India and Pakistan in order to polarize the world between Islam and the ‘Crusader-Zionist-Hindu’ conspiracy”. But the group’s plan was hampered by India’s restraint and refusal to strike back using force, he argues.
►►Man passing defense info to Pakistan held in India. Reports suggest that Sumer Khan, 34, from Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district, has been arrested for sending strategic information to Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency via emails and mobile calls for the past three years. A source said that Khan was caught after his calls to Pakistan were intercepted by Indian military intelligence and Intelligence Bureau. The arrest comes just two days after the conclusion of India’s biggest-ever air exercise, ‘Iron Fist’, in Jaisalmer.

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Pakistani militant group ‘more dangerous than al-Qaeda’: ex-CIA official

Bruce RiedelBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A former senior official of the United States Central Intelligence Agency has argued that al-Qaeda is no longer the most powerful group in the global Islamist insurgency. Writing in The Daily Beast earlier this month, Bruce Riedel, who served in the CIA for nearly 30 years prior to his retirement in 2006, warned that Lashkar e-Taiba is now “the most dangerous terror group in the world”. In his editorial, the former CIA analyst, who is now a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said that LeT operates freely inside Pakistan and continues to have strong operational connections with the Pakistani armed forces and the country’s intelligence establishment. Since its founding in 1990, LeT’s traditional political aspiration has been to end Indian rule over the predominantly Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir, and then integrate the latter with Pakistan. But the group’s aims appeared to expand significantly in November of 2008, when it sent ten heavily armed operatives to Mumbai on speedboats. Once they landed in India’s most populous city, the LeT operatives proceeded to strike nearly a dozen tourist-related targets in well-calculated suicide missions. By the end of the four-day terrorist spree, 166 people —including six Americans and many other Western tourists— had been killed. Riedel views the 2008 Mumbai strike as “the most significant and innovative terrorist attack since 9/11”, and says that it marked LeT’s maturation “from a Punjabi-based Pakistani terror group targeting India exclusively” to an outfit with a global outlook, “targeting the enemies of al Qaeda: the Crusader West, Zionist Israel, and Hindu India”. Today, nearly four years after the Mumbai attacks, LeT maintains a global presence, with active cells throughout the Middle East and Asia, and funding operations in North America, Australia and Europe, claims Riedel. Additionally, LeT does not appear to feel threatened by Washington. Read more of this post

Exclusive: intelNews readers get 20% off espionage conference online video pass

Bruce Riedel

Bruce Riedel

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
It is not every day that $19.95 can get you direct video access to a five-day intelligence and espionage conference. Plus, intelNews has worked out a deal with conference organizers for a further 20% discount off the final price of the event. The conference, which will take place in New York from July 18-22, is entitled Spies, Technology and Espionage. It is an ambitious collaboration between the New York-based Chautauqua Institution, the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, and online conference channel Fora TV, which will broadcast the five-day event in its entirety. It features lectures by big-name speakers, including Washington Post associate editor David Ignatius, CIA veteran officers Peter Earnest and Bruce Riedel, former CIA Director James Wolsey, as well as former MI5 Director Dame Stella Rimington. The timing of the conference has been carefully arranged to coincide with the run-up to the 10-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 events, which eventually sparked Washington’s so-called “war on terrorism”. The principal question leading the conference is what has America’s intelligence community learned in these ten years? Speakers will address several core themes, including the ways in which basic principles and practices of the intelligence profession have evolved in these 10 years. Another prominent theme for discussion will be the interface between intelligence operations and democratic accountability, and the resulting conflicts between espionage, covert operations, and America’s justice system. To learn more about the five-day conference, and to get your $19.95 video pass, which gets you a 60-day access, click here. IntelNews readers can get 20% off by entering ‘INTELNEWS’ (without the quotations) at the special coupon code field during checkout.

US paying ‘price in blood’ for Israel-Palestine conflict, say ex-CIA officers

Bruce Riedel

Bruce Riedel

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Two former CIA officers have warned that America will continue “paying an increasing price in blood” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and urged the White House to directly meddle in domestic Israeli politics in order to help end the dispute. Speaking on Thursday at a conference on achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace, Bruce Riedel and Frank Anderson, whose combined CIA careers span 55 years, agreed that a new all-out war between Israel and the Palestinians would be inevitable unless the United States aggressively “puts down its own map of a two-state solution”. Anderson, who is currently President at the Middle East Policy Council, opined that America is “paying an increasing price in blood for [the Israelis’ and the Palestinians’] failure and refusal to reach an agreement”. Riedel, who is Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, argued that “American lives are being lost today” due to the conflict’s impact on American national security. Read more of this post

Analysis: Can the CIA sabotage the Iranian nuclear weapons program?

Shahram Amiri

Shahram Amiri

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
There is no doubt that the CIA has been actively trying to sabotage Iran’s nuclear weapons program since at least February of 2008, when US President George W. Bush authorized Langley to intensify its covert efforts against Tehran. It is also true that the US was able to partially sabotage Iran’s nuclear program by eliminating the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network, and by employing scientific front companies and cooperative suppliers, who gave the Iranians faulty hardware. The defection to Washington of senior Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri provides recent evidence of the existence of a covert US project to “decapitate” the Iranian nuclear weapons program, by luring away leading Iranian researchers. On the other hand, it is worth wondering why the CIA chose to remove Amiri from the Iranian nuclear program, instead of asking him to remain an agent-in-place, which would have been far more beneficial for Langley. Read more of this post