News you may have missed #736

Abdel Baset al-MegrahiBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Convicted Lockerbie bomber dies. Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer who was the only person ever convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, died at home in Tripoli Sunday, nearly three years after he was released from a Scottish prison to the outrage of the relatives of the attack’s 270 victims. He was 60. Scotland released Mr. al-Megrahi on Aug. 20, 2009, on compassionate grounds to let him return home to die after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Anger over the release was further stoked by subsequent allegations that London had sought his release to preserve business interests in the oil-rich North African nation, strongly denied by the British and Scottish governments.
►►Federal appeals panel to hear CIA leak case. A federal appeals panel in the United States will hear the case of ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who has been charged with leaking classified information about Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen. Prosecutors say Sterling was a key source in Risen’s 2006 book, State of War. They are also challenging the court’s decision to strike two government witnesses and allow disclosure of the identities of covert CIA operatives to Sterling’s lawyers.
►►New study of British Empire’s spies published. British newspaper The Guardian has published a review of William Beaver’s newly published book, Under Every Leaf: How Britain Played The Greater Game From Afghanistan to Africa. Much of the book concerns the creation in the mid-1850s of the British War Office Intelligence Department. According to the review, the book does much to restore the “missing dimension” to Britain’s military-imperial history between 1855 and the creation of her modern intelligence agencies in the early 1900s.

Spanish spies remain active in UK territory of Gibraltar



The British Crown has ruled Gibraltar since the early 1700s, but Spain has never ceased to claim national rights over the territory. Today, la Cuestión de Gibraltar (the Gibraltar question) is as critical an issue in Spanish-British relations as it has been for over 300 years. A recent article in Gibraltar’s English-language Panorama news site reminds us that, even though the two countries are NATO and European Union allies, Spanish intelligence agents remain active in the territory. It is true that the Rock is frequented by agents of Spain’s Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI), who are mostly concerned with assessing economic and political life in the British possession. The article lacks sources, but its views are probably not far from the truth, considering Gibraltar’s immense geostrategic significance. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0133

  • Book examines Central Asian espionage in WWI. On Secret Service East of Constantinople, by Peter Hopkirk (John Murray Publishers), examines the role of German intelligence services in Kaiser Wilhelm’s attempt to gain influence in the Ottoman Empire, the Caucasus, Persia, Afghanistan and India. A very interesting, under-researched aspect of World War I.
  • CIA intercepted communication between Zazi and al-Qaeda. A local TV station in Denver, Colorado, quotes “intelligence officials familiar with the investigation” of Najibullah Zazi, as saying that the CIA alerted US federal agencies after intercepting a conversation between Zazi and a senior al-Qaida operative. No word yet about this from the FBI, which is supposed to handle domestic terrorism cases.
  • US defense secretary hints at more secret nuke sites in Iran. Speaking alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last night at a CNN/George Washington University forum, Robert Gates dropped what seemed to be a big hint that the United States knows much more about the Iranian nuclear program than the Iranians might think.

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