Botched CIA mission in Siberia revealed

Ulan Ude

Ulan Ude

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Five American “tourists” temporarily detained in 2001 by Russian border agents were in fact CIA agents on a covert mission to Siberia, court documents have revealed. The five were among thirteen agents traveling to Siberia on a chartered CIA flight. They were detained in the far-eastern Russian city of Petropavlovsk by Russian authorities, because Langley had failed to secure visas for them in time for their departure. The Americans’ CIA cover was revealed last week during a court case involving alleged fraud by a US government contractor involved in the operation. The CIA group was apparently traveling to Ulan Ude, Siberia in order to purchase two Russian helicopters for use in CIA missions in Afghanistan. Read more of this post

Dutch double agent called “modern-day Mata Hari” in prison

Malika Karoum

Malika Karoum

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Malika Karoum, the 33-year old intelligence operative who has been described as the “modern-day Mata Hari” is in prison in Egypt, a Dutch news magazine has revealed. Karoum, a Dutch citizen of Moroccan descent, joined Holland’s General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) in 2004, and worked as an undercover agent investigating Islamist groups operating on Dutch soil. In 2006, AIVD sent Karoum to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to aid an international investigation into money laundering with possible Islamist links. But Dutch intelligence sources say that Karoum, whose apparent cover was working as a real-estate agent, began “subcontracting” herself to Egyptian and United Arab Emirates intelligence services, and eventually utilized her real-estate cover to enter the murky business world of property development in Dubai. Read more of this post

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The CIA in Iran Today: A Realistic Assessment

Iran protestors

Iran protestors

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
It is hardly surprising to witness the sudden cessation of the US media frenzy that placed Iran under the microspore last month. And yet I believe that now, as the regime in Tehran is redeploying its machinery of social control, is the perfect time to calmly and sensibly provide a rational assessment of what really took place in Iran in June, as well as the US involvement, if any. The CIA’s past shenanigans in Iran are by now widely known and understood –particularly by the Iranians themselves, who, regardless of their feelings toward the present regime in Tehran, are suspicious of collaborating with US agencies. But what is the US involvement in fomenting unrest in Tehran today? More importantly, to what extent can the CIA’s ongoing covert activities in the Middle East be said to have played a role in last June’s seemingly spontaneous popular uprising in Tehran? With this question in mind, I wrote The CIA in Iran Today: A Realistic Assessment, which you can now read in Jeremy Hammond’s Foreign Policy Journal. Here’s a tip: for the CIA’s intelligence directorate  analysts, the recent unrest in Iran was more like 1979 than 1953. Read article →

Analysis: CIA now operates on its own inside Pakistan

Border region

Border region

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Pakistani newspaper The Daily Times has published what is probably the most significant report from Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in recent months. The paper quotes senior Pakistani government officials in arguing that intelligence cooperation and coordination between Washington and Islamabad is now “at its lowest level”. One senior intelligence source describes the present situation as the latest stage in a gradual process of deterioration in relations between the two countries, beginning in 2001-2003, when “relations were good” and intelligence sharing was considerable in scale. As intelNews readers have known since November 16, 2008, these sharing arrangements included CIA-orchestrated airstrikes on Pakistani soil by unmanned drones, which the Pakistani leadership then secretly approved. However, The Daily Times reports that eventually Washington began notifying Islamabad just “minutes before carrying out strikes”. In recent weeks “[t]he level of cooperation has gone so low that the US now even does not intimate Pakistan after a drone strike” (emphasis added,) according to one senior Pakistani security official. Read more of this post

Advisors tell Obama to expand covert war inside Pakistan

Baluchistan

Baluchistan

By I. ALLEN and J. FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Reports are emerging today that the Obama White House is considering intensifying US covert operations and CIA drone airstrikes deep inside Pakistan. If carried out, these operations will be taking place in Pakistan’s vast Baluchistan province, and would represent a major escalation in the so-called “war on terrorism”. Until now, strikes by US unmanned drones, operated by the CIA, have been strictly limited to Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border. But The New York Times report that “at least two of the high-level reports on Pakistan and Afghanistan that have been forwarded to the White House in recent weeks have called for broadening the target area” to include Baluchistan. Additionally, the paper reports that several of the President’s advisors favor “conduct[ing] cross-border ground actions [deep inside Pakistan], using CIA and Special Operations commandos”. Read more of this post

Israel’s covert war on Iranian nuclear program intensifies

Ahmedinejad

Ahmadinejad

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
Citing unnamed “US intelligence sources”, British newspaper The Daily Telegraph has revealed what it calls a covert “decapitation program” by Israeli intelligence, targeting Iran’s nuclear program. The program has also been confirmed by Reva Bhalla, a senior analyst with Stratfor. Israel’s program is part of an international intelligence effort to hamper Iran’s nuclear program. As intelNews has reported before, this effort includes an extensive CIA operation approved by President George W. Bush in early 2008 and “hand[ed] off to President […] Barack Obama”.  The Israeli program, however, appears to be much more extensive than America’s, and includes assassinations, bribing, “front companies and double agents”, according to The Daily Telegraph. The most aggressive part of the scheme centers on “the planned assassination of top figures involved in Iran’s atomic operations”, according to Ms. Bhalla. Read more of this post

Analysis: Iranian Terrorist Group Enjoys US, EU Protection

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), also known as the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, is one of several armed groups deemed terrorist by Washington and the European Union (EU). On January 26, however, the EU decided to remove MEK from its official list of terrorist organizations, a move that some observers believe was secretly supported by the US. This is because, despite MEK’s terrorist designation, Washington has routinely collaborated with it since 2003, prompted by the group’s fierce opposition to the regime in Tehran. In 2003, when the US invaded Iraq, American forces entered Camp Ashraf, MEK’s main military base in Iraq, to find “armored personnel carriers, artillery, anti-aircraft guns and vehicles […] along with more than 2,000 well-maintained tanks”. However, even though the group if officially classified by the US as terrorist, US troops were ordered by the Pentagon to give military protection to MEK armed groups in Iraq. Since then, Western correspondents in Iraq have frequently reported that US military personnel “regularly escort MEK supply runs between Baghdad and […] Camp Ashraf”. Read article →

Four alleged CIA operatives convicted in Iran

Jamshidi

Jamshidi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On January 13, intelNews reported on revelations of an ongoing CIA operation to sabotage Iranian nuclear laboratories and installations. The exposé, published in The New York Times, claimed that the covert plan was authorized by President Bush in early 2008 and will be “hand[ed] off to […] Barack Obama”. We also reported that a few hours after The New York Times‘ revelations, the Iranian government announced the arrest and secret trial of four individuals “seeking to topple [the government] with the backing of the US State Department and the CIA”. Last Saturday, the four were apparently convicted after a secret trial, in which they were found guilty of trying to instigate a “velvet revolution” in the Islamic state. The country’s Judiciary spokesperson, Alireza Jamshidi (photo), said the four alleged spies received covert monetary assistance from “the White House, the State Department and the CIA”, and were tasked with setting up a network of dissidents willing to topple the Iranian government. Read more of this post

New revelations of CIA sabotage program in Iran

Ahmedinejad

Ahmadinejad

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The New York Times has published a front-page exposé of an ongoing CIA operation to sabotage Iranian nuclear laboratories and installations. Citing “interviews over the past 15 months with current and former American officials, outside experts, international nuclear inspectors and European and Israeli officials” the paper reveals that President Bush authorized the CIA operation in early 2008, and will “hand [it] off to President-elect Barack Obama”. Bush reportedly has had to defend the covert program on at least one occasion against Israel’s insistence to launch air attacks on known Iranian nuclear sites. The CIA program is aimed at –among other things– “computer systems and other networks on which Iran relies”. Read more of this post

British assisted abduction of Iranian police officers, says senior official

Last July, Jundullah, a separatist Sunni Islamic organization operating in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province, abducted and subsequently murdered 16 Iranian police officers stationed in Saravan, Iran. Now Iran’s First Deputy Judiciary Chief, Ebrahim Raisi Ghraib, has said the Islamic Republic has “obtained information” that British forces helped Jundullah fighters abduct the police officers by providing them with “critical intelligence” during the operation. Read more of this post

UK spy trial outcome linked with Iran covert operation?

On November 17, intelNews reported on a possible covert infiltration operation by British agents along Iran’s southeastern border. Interestingly, Iran appeared to deny reports from Reuters that it had busted the undertaking. Now another British-Iranian spy scandal has been added to this interesting mix. A court in London has sentenced Daniel James (born Esmail Gamasai in Tehran, Iran) to 10 years for spying for Iran while serving as personal interpreter to General Sir David Richards, Britain’s top General and the most senior military commander of the multinational NATO force in Afghanistan. In late 2006, James made contact with Colonel Mohammad Hossein Heydari, military attaché at the Iranian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, sending him classified documents and stating “I am at your service”. He was arrested in December of that year. James was convicted of “a single count of communicating information useful to an enemy”, though the jury had to take the British government’s word that he was arrested “before he could become a fully-fledged agent”. What is interesting, in connection with the alleged covert operation by British agents in southeaster Iran, is that the British government suddenly decided not to try James under the full extent of the law in accordance with the Official Secrets Act. Instead, the prosecuting QC “applied for the charges to be allowed to lie on file, meaning there would be no further proceedings”. This has caused knowledgeable observers to question whether the decision to back off this case is in some way linked to the busted covert operation in southeaster Iran earlier this month. Should we be expecting a spy trade-off soon, or has one already taken place? Watch this space. [JF]

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Iran said to deny reports of spy arrests

It appears that Iranian news agencies are now denying earlier reports by Reuters that ten people of unknown nationality (but allegedly working for the British secret service) were arrested in Iran’s southeastern border while trying to enter the country illegally. Interestingly, the arrestees were reportedly found to be in possession of sophisticated cameras, maps of selected areas in Iran and around $500,000 in cash —the latter a clear sign of a covert infiltration operation. The Iranian denial of the Reuters report is in fact more interesting than the covert operation itself. Watch this space for more information on this developing story. [JF]