News you may have missed #743 (espionage edition)

Vladimir LazarBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Denmark professor jailed for spying. Timo Kivimäki a Finnish professor of international politics in Copenhagen, Denmark, has been sentenced to five months in prison for spying, following a trial held behind closed doors, from which even the verdict was not released. Several Russian diplomats left Denmark after the start of the spy case and, according to Danish media, Kivimäki’s lawyer, Anders Nemeth, had attempted to have them return to act as witnesses.
►►Retired Russian colonel convicted of spying for US. A Russian court has ruled that retired Colonel Vladimir Lazar spied for the US, and sentenced him to 12 years in prison. Lazar will be sent to a high-security prison and stripped of his military rank, the Federal Security Service said in a statement. Prosecutors said Lazar purchased several computer disks with more than 7,000 images of classified maps of Russia from a collector in 2008 and smuggled them to neighboring Belarus, where he gave them to an alleged American intelligence agent.
►►India arrests military intel staffer for spying. The soldier, identified only as Shivdasan, worked for the Indian Army’s Technical Support Division, which is a newly founded unit within Indian Military Intelligence. He was reportedly trapped by the Indian Directorate of Revenue Intelligence in an elaborate operation that involved a “double agent” and a relative of the soldier in Dubai.

News you may have missed #660

Margaret ThatcherBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Taiwan President accused of spying on political opponents. Taiwan’s opposition challenger for the presidency, Tsai Ing-wen, has accused intelligence services under the control of incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou of tracking her campaign events for political advantage. The allegations – unproven and denied by Ma – conjure up memories of Taiwan’s one-party past when Ma’s party, the Nationalists, used their total control of the state apparatus to persecute opponents.
►►Analysis: Has Israeli-Australian spy relationship been restored? Intelligence sharing between Israel and Australia was halted this time last year, when a Mossad hit squad with forged Australian passports assassinated senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in in Dubai. But Australian newspaper The Age reports that “the flow of top secret intelligence between the two countries has now been restored”, in a move apparently initiated by the Australian side.
►►Thatcher threatened to ban BBC program on MI5 and MI6. The Conservative government of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher threatened to “veto” a BBC investigative program about British intelligence services MI5 and MI6, because it would reveal details about how they operated and question their public accountability. In a letter marked “top secret and personal”, cabinet secretary Sir Robert Armstrong, recommended that Margaret Thatcher consider invoking the rarely used power, saying that “the government has the power to ban any program”. Thatcher wrote on the note: “I would be prepared to use the veto”.

United States urges Iran to release alleged CIA spy

Amir Mirzaei HekmatiBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The United States has called on Iran to release an American citizen of Iranian descent, who appeared on Iranian state TV last Sunday and acknowledged that he was an operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. In the pre-recorded interview, a man identifying himself as Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, from Arizona, said he was arrested by Iranian counterintelligence while on a CIA mission. Speaking calmly in Farsi and English and —as Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper put it— appearing to be “not under duress”, Hekmati said the joined the US Army in 2001 and served in Iraq. He also said that he was trained “in languages and espionage” while in the US Army, and eventually worked for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the US Pentagon’s research and development wing. In 2009, after nearly a decade of intelligence training, he said he was recruited by the CIA and was specifically prepared for what intelligence operatives sometimes refer to as a ‘dangling operation’ in Iran.  The aim of the mission, said Hekmati, was to travel to Tehran, contact Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and National Security, and pose as a genuine American defector wishing to supply the Iranians with inside information about American intelligence. His immediate task was to gain the trust of Iranian authorities by giving them some correct information, in order to set the stage for a longer campaign of disinformation aimed at undermining a host of Iranian intelligence operations. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #534

MI6 HQ

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
According to extracts from the diary of Alastair Campbell, British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s communications director from 2000 to 2003, officials from the MI6 intelligence agency told Blair that France and Germany aimed to “exploit his feud” with then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. Gotta love European unity. In Kuwait, meanwhile, the oil state’s Al-Shahed daily quotes “knowledgeable sources”, who claim that “a lot of spy networks exploit the Kuwaiti environment” and use the country as a transit point to spy on neighboring countries. Hopefully the Kuwaitis will not emulate authorities in Dubai, which in March of last year called on all foreign spies “to leave the region within a week. If not”, they warned, “we will cross that bridge when we come to it”. In the nearby state of Israel, public opinion is still divided about former Mossad chief Meir Dagan’s criticism of the Netanyahu government. As Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg notes, Dagan has “called into question the wisdom –and, privately, even the sanity– of any Israeli leader who contemplates a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities”. But why is he doing it, and could it backfire?

New clues in extensive recount of al-Mabhouh assassination

Ronen Bergman

Ronen Bergman

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The current issue of US-based magazine GQ contains what must be the most extensive account in English of the 2010 assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Written by Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman (author of The Secret War with Iran), the piece contains several new clues about the targeted killing of al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas official, in a luxury hotel in Dubai last January. One new element that stands out in Bergman’s account is that, two months prior to his assassination, al-Mabhouh survived a poisoning attempt by the same team of Israeli operatives, again in Dubai. The Hamas official fell ill, but recovered fully. Bergman also claims that the operation to target al-Mabhouh, which must have lasted several months or even years, involved the use of an elaborate Trojan horse virus that was implanted on al-Mabhouh’s computer, and allowed Mossad operatives to monitor his email correspondence. It was through this method that the Israelis became aware of al-Mabhouh’s itinerary during his fatal trip to Dubai. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #464 (Mossad edition)

British citizen among Mossad assassins intrigues investigators

Christopher Lockwood

Lockwood

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Only a handful of the 33 members of an Israeli assassination squad, who killed a senior Hamas member in Dubai last January, carried non-fraudulent passports. Most of the assassins, who in all probability worked for Kidon, an elite assassination unit within Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, used forged British, Irish, German, Australian, and other passports. Dubai officials investigating the murder of Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh have identified at least one British citizen among non-fraudulent passport holders in the Mossad assassination team: he is 62-year-old Christopher Lockwood (photo), who helped facilitate al-Mabhouh’s assassination by transporting some of the Mossad members around Dubai “in a [rented] white minivan with tinted windows”. Read more of this post

Emirates police says US, Israel, use BlackBerry to spy

Dahi Tamim

Dahi Tamim

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The alleged use of encrypted BlackBerry communications by adversary intelligence services operating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is prompting local authorities to consider a nationwide ban on the popular phone. This was revealed late last week by Dubai Police chief, Lt. General Dahi Khalfan bin Tamim, who repeated a warning by UAE authorities that BlackBerry services in the country will be curtailed on October 11, unless the government is given access to BlackBerry’s encryption code by the manufacturer. Several other countries in the Middle East and beyond have made similar moves, including Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, India and Indonesia, all of which have cited security reasons for the ban. But Lt. General Tamim’s comments provide the first known connection between a threat to ban BlackBerry and its alleged use by rival intelligence agencies. Read more of this post

Ireland not to recall passports following Mossad forgeries

Forged passports

Forged passports

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The government of Ireland has decided against recalling millions of passports issued before 2005, following the discovery of several forged Irish passports used by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. At least seven of the Mossad operatives who took part in last January’s assassination of senior Hamas military official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, used forged Irish passports to enter and exit the United Arab Emirates. An official investigation into the affair by the Irish government uncovered an extensive Israeli document forgery network in Ireland, and led to the expulsion of an Israeli embassy official from the country. But Irish government officials, tired of the long history of forged Irish passports used by intelligence agencies around the world, flirted with the idea of recalling all Irish passports issued before 2005, when sophisticated security features were introduced. Read more of this post

Germany lets captured Mossad spy suspect return to Israel

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Al-Mabhouh

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
German authorities have allowed an Israeli intelligence operative suspected of links to an assassination of a Palestinian official to return to Israel, despite outstanding passport forgery charges against him. The operative, whose travel documents identify him as Uri Brodsky, was arrested upon arriving in Poland on June 4, 2010. An Interpol arrest warrant for Brodsky had been previously issued by German prosecutors, who accuse Brodsky of  helping procure a forged German passport for use by a member of an assassination squad operating under Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The user of the forged passport is believed to have used the travel document to enter Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in mid-January of this year, where he participated in the killing of Palestinian Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas weapons procurer, who was found dead in his luxury Dubai hotel room on January 20. Polish authorities decided to extradite Brodsky to Germany despite intense diplomatic pressure from Israel, who pressed Warsaw and Berlin to allow the operative to return home to Israel without facing charges. But intelligence observers, who were initially impressed with Poland and Germany’s strong stance on the issue, soon realized that Brodsky’s extradition was part of a Polish-German-Israeli deal, under which Brodsky would avoid jail sentence and get away with a minor fine for forging an official German travel document. This is precisely what happened. Read more of this post

Mossad operative to avoid jail in extradition deal

Uri Brodsky

"Uri Brodsky"

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
An operative of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, who was arrested in Poland on charges of forging a German passport, will avoid prison time for the offense, under a suspected Polish-German-Israeli secret deal. The man, whose travel documents identify him as Uri Brodsky, was arrested upon arriving in Poland on June 4. He is wanted by German prosecutors for procuring a forged German passport for use by a member of a Mossad hit squad, who used it to enter Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in mid-January of this year. The user of the forged passport is thought to have participated in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas weapons procurer, who was found dead in his luxury Dubai hotel room on January 20.  German prosecutors believe that Brodsky, who worked in Germany under the name of Alexander Werin, assisted numerous Mossad operatives acquire forged identity papers of several European countries, including Estonia, Latvia, Austria and Switzerland. Read more of this post

US money transfer firms linked to Dubai killing of Hamas official

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Al-Mabhouh

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Preliminary results of an ongoing international investigation into the January 2010 murder of a senior Hamas official show that US-based money transfer companies were used to finance the killing. The body of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, co-founder of the Palestinian Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, was discovered by staff at Dubai’s luxury Al-Bustan Rotana Hotel, where al-Mabhouh was a guest, on January 20, 2010. His murder is widely believed to have been the work of a multi-member hit squad operating under the command of Israeli external intelligence agency Mossad. But, according to American newspaper The Wall Street Journal, the funds used by the Israeli hit squad members during the assassination operation came from fund transfers in the United States. Read more of this post

Poland to extradite Israeli spy to Germany on lesser charges

Uri Brodsky

"Uri Brodsky"

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A judge in Poland has ruled in favor of the extradition to Germany of an Israeli alleged spy, wanted by Interpol in connection with the assassination of a Hamas official last January. The court ruling stipulates that Israeli citizen Uri Brodsky, who was arrested upon arriving in Poland on June 4, is to be extradited to Germany, where he will face charges of forgery. Authorities in Berlin accuse Brodsky of having helped an assassination team working for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to acquire a forged German passport, used by an assassination team member to travel in and out of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. While there, the Israeli assassins are thought to have killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a weapons procurer for Palestinian group Hamas, who was in Dubai on a business trip. Shortly after Brodsky’s arrest in Warsaw, Poland and Berlin came under intense pressure from Israel to ignore the Interpol arrest warrant for the alleged Israeli spy, drop all charges, and allow him to flee to Israel. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #387

  • Blackwater to ‘abandon US government market’. Erik Prince, occasional CIA operative and CEO of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, has said in an interview that he is tired of Congressional oversight regulations and plans to abandon US government business forever. Meanwhile, there are reports that Xe has just won a $100 million contract to guard CIA facilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
  • Congress won’t back down on CIA oversight battle. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is battling a veto threat by US President Barack Obama, as well as against the CIA and powerful House and Senate Democrats and Republicans, over Congressional oversight of US intelligence services.
  • Mossad chief to step down after eight years. Mossad Director Meir Dagan’s request to extend his term by another year has been denied, and he will step down in three months’ time, according to Israeli media reports. The chief of Dubai Police, which exposed a January 2010 Mossad assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, said Dagan’s ousting is related to the botched operation.

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Germany refuses to drop Mossad prosecution, despite Israeli pressure

Uri Brodsky

"Uri Brodsky"

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
German-Israeli relations sunk to a new low this week, after the German government rejected Israel’s call to drop a public investigation into the actions of a suspected Israeli spy. The alleged spy, whose travel documents identify him as “Uri Brodsky”, was arrested upon arriving in Poland on June 4. He is wanted by German prosecutors, not for directly participating in the assassination by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of senior Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, as had been previously reported, but for procuring a forged German passport for the assassins. “Brodsky” appears to have traveled under the cover name of “Alexander Verin” to Cologne, Germany, where he employed the services of a lawyer to acquire the forged passport. It was later used used by Israeli Mossad agents to travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where al-Mabhouh was assassinated. Read more of this post