News you may have missed #655

DARPA logoBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►DARPA awards team that reassembled shredded documents. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a US government group that funds high-tech military research, has awarded $50,000 to a group of programmers that came up with a way to quickly and effectively piece together shredded documents.
►►Europeans refuse to disclose CIA flight data. A majority of 28 mostly-European countries have failed to comply with freedom of information requests about their involvement in secret CIA flights carrying suspected terrorists, two human rights groups say. London-based Reprieve and Madrid-based Access Info Europe accuse European nations of covering up their complicity in the so-called ‘extraordinary rendition’ program by failing to release flight-traffic data that could show the paths of the planes.
►►Final look at GCHQ’s Cheltenham site. The Oakley site of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s signals intelligence agency, is being decommissioned with the last few staff members leaving for the nearby Benhall site, nicknamed ‘the doughnut’. The BBC published an interesting tour of the site, which opened in 1951.

News you may have missed #654

Abdel Hakim Belhaj►►Libyan military commander sues British intelligence. Just as he said he would, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who commands the new Libyan military forces in Tripoli, has sued Britain for its role in his rendition into imprisonment and torture at the hands of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. He said he resorted to legal action after waiting in vain for the British government to offer an apology for his seven years spent in the jails of the secret police.
►►Argentine Admiral fired over espionage scandal. The head of the Argentine Navy, Admiral Jorge Godoy, has stepped down after being accused of illegal espionage. He has been indicted for alleged practices of “domestic intelligence” –which are prohibited by Argentina’s laws– against political leaders and of human rights activists, in the years between 2003 and 2006.
►►US intelligence warned of strive after US Iraq pullout. This is what Reuters news agency reports, citing anonymous sources inside the US government. Then again, US intelligence agencies warned in 2002 of increasing strife in case of a US invasion in Iraq, and nobody in government listened to them. So why would anyone listen to them now?

News you may have missed #623

Erkki Tuomioja,

Erkki Tuomioja,

►►Finnish FM washes hands of CIA flights. Erkki Tuomioja, the Finnish foreign minister, said last week that Finnish officials had no means to investigate allegations that a number of CIA prisoner flights touched down in Finland during the so-called war on terrorism. Tuomioja urged human rights groups to take action instead.
►►Australian defense documents stolen by foreign intelligence. A report has revealed that secret documents of Major-General John Cantwell, Australia’s most senior commander in the Middle East, were stolen by a foreign intelligence service last year. The documents were apparently in an encrypted drive stored in an aide’s backpack –contrary to protocol– and was thought lost when a large amount of luggage went missing for several days from Islamabad airport.
►►US soldier arrested by FBI counterintelligence. William Colton Millay, of Owensboro, Ky., was arrested last week at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage in an investigation conducted by the US Army and FBI. For now, both agencies are withholding information about the spy case. But an Army spokesman said that Millay did not leak or send information using the Internet and did not harm US security.

Germany releases Mongolian spy master wanted for abduction, torture

Bat Khurts

Bat Khurts

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On May 15, 2003, Mongolian refugee and political-asylum seeker Enkhbat Damiran was kidnapped outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Le Havre, France. According to Amnesty International, Damiran was apprehended by a team of officers of the General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia (GIAM), who kicked him, drugged him and beat him with electric batons, before ushering him to the Mongolian embassy. From there, Damiran was illegally smuggled into Germany, where he stayed for a few days, before being transported to Mongolia, through Belgium. Once back in his homeland, Damiran effectively ‘disappeared’ in the custody of GIAM, where he was allegedly subjected to systematic torture by his captors. The latter believe him to be connected with the 1998 assassination of Zorig Sanjaasürengiin, Mongolia’s former Minister of Infrastructure. Following complaints about the abduction from the European Union, the Mongolian government apologized to the governments of France, Germany and Belgium. But Damiran’s abduction has continued to be at the root of a diplomatic rift between Europe and Mongolia, which has widened in recent years. Things became even more heated in September 2010, when British intelligence, acting on a Europe-wide arrest warrant, captured Bat Khurts, former Director of GIAM, who is believed to be responsible for Damiran’s abduction and torture. Khurts was arrested in London, after being lured there in a carefully planned and executed intelligence operation. This past July, the British government decided to extradite Khurts to Germany, where was scheduled to be tried on abduction charges on October 24. So it was a bit of a surprise to say the least, when, yesterday, the Mongolian former spymaster was unexpectedly released by German authorities, after having all charges against him dropped. Read more of this post

Covert war in Somalia involves CIA, European mercenaries

Richard Rouget

Richard Rouget

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Regular readers of this blog will remember Jeremy Scahill’s report in The Nation last July, about the US Central Intelligence Agency’s expanding operations in Somalia. Since the 2006 US-led Ethiopian invasion, the Western-backed Somali government has been engaged in a brutal war with al-Shabaab, the youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union, which ruled most of the country in the years after 9/11. Scahill revealed that the CIA maintains a growing security complex in the country, located right behind Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport. The complex allegedly contains over a dozen buildings, as well as several metal hangars, which house CIA aircraft. Now a new report by United Press International claims that the clandestine American campaign in the horn of Africa “appears to be growing daily”, and that the CIA complex contains a prison for renditioned militant suspects. The latter are routinely interrogated by members of a Mogadishu-based CIA team consisting of approximately 30 case officers, analysts, linguists, and others. The UPI article suggests that the growing CIA presence in the Somali capital is part of a wider expansion of America’s counter-terrorist campaign in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Indonesia, and the Philippines. However, the instances when CIA personnel venture outside Mogadishu are few and far between. For this purpose, the Somali government is using American financial aid to hire European private security firms, including Bancroft Global Development, a combat consulting group with a growing presence in Mogadishu. Bancroft’s 40-member team consists of Scandinavian, South African, and French former special forces members, including Richard Rouget (also known as ‘Colonel Sanders’), a former officer in the French Army who has recent combat experience in several African countries. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #587 (Libya edition)

Abdel Hakim Belhaj

Abdel Belhaj

►►Inside Libyan spy overlord’s low-tech HQ. “Handwritten notes prepared for officials over the past months show that Libya’s spooks had a good grasp of who was sending weapons to the rebels. However, its contacts with MI6 and the CIA had clearly disintegrated, as a series of despairing pleadings reveal”.
►►UK government to investigate Libyan rendition claims. British Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday that an independent inquiry should investigate evidence that British intelligence agencies were complicit in the rendition of terrorist suspects to Libya, where they were tortured by the Gaddafi regime.
►►Libyan rebel says female MI6 spy ignored his pleas for help. Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who is commander of Libya’s rebel military, says a female MI6 spy was among the Britons who flew to Tripoli to interrogate him, after the CIA abducted him in Malaysia, and delivered him to the hands of the Libyan regime.

News you may have missed #584

Nicky Hager

Nicky Hager

►►Billing dispute reveals details of secret CIA flights. On August 12, 2003, a conracted Gulfstream IV aircraft carrying six passengers took off from Dulles International Airport for Bangkok. When it returned four days later, it carried Indonesian terrorist Riduan Isamuddin, who had been captured in Thailand and would spend the next three years in various secret CIA prisons. The Gulfstream IV’s itinerary, as well as the $339,228 price tag for the journey, are among the details of shadowy CIA flights that have emerged in a New York courthouse, in a billing dispute between contractors. Incidentally, even the airplanes’ owners didn’t always know that the CIA was using them.
►►French admit secret service spied on reporter. French interior minister Claude Guéant has admitted that the secret service spied on investigative reporter Gérard Davet, from the newspaper Le Monde, in order to trace the source of a leak about the so-called “Bettencourt party funding scandal“, which has been a source of embarrassment for President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party.
►►NZ let Israeli spies go free in return for passports. Another revelation from Nicky Hager’s book Other People’s Wars (see previous intelNews coverage here). The investigative reporter claims that New Zealand’s Security Intelligence Service released captured Mossad spies Eli Cara and Uriel Zoshe Kelman, in return for Read more of this post

News you may have missed #582

John Yoo

John Yoo

►►US government conceals Bush surveillance memos. The Justice Department is refusing to release legal memos by lawyer John Yoo, which the George W. Bush administration used to justify its warrantless surveillance program, one of the most contentious civil liberties issues during the Republican president’s time in office.
►►Ex-CIA bin Laden Unit boss wants rendition back. Michael Scheuer, a former insider and vocal critic of the US intelligence establishment, has described the Arab revolutions as “an intelligence disaster for the US and for Britain, and other European services”. Speaking from Scotland, he also urged for a return to the Bush administration’s rendition program, in order to gather new intelligence on Middle Eastern and North African groups.
►►French firm helped Gaddafi spy on opposition. We have written before about technical intelligence support provided by Western firms to some of the world’s most brutal regimes, including Iran and Bahrain. We can no add Libya to the long list. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amesys, a subsidiary of French telecommunications firm Bull helped the Gaddafi regime spy on the emails and chat messages of its opponents.

German spies meddled in ex-Nazi Eichmann’s trial in Israel, records show

Adolf Eichmann

Adolf Eichmann

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The West German government instructed its intelligence agency to interfere in the trial of former senior Nazi official Adolf Eichmann in Israel, in order to avert the incrimination of other Germans over the Holocaust. Eichmann, who was Obersturmbahnführer in the German SS from 1940 onwards, was among the chief organizers of the Holocaust and was personally responsible for the extermination of untold numbers of European Jews during World War II. However, in 1946 he managed to escape from American custody and eventually fled to Argentina with the help of a network of Franciscan Catholics in Italy. But in 1960, a ten-member Israeli intelligence team kidnapped Eichmann from his home in Argentina and transported him secretly to Israel, where he would be tried and, eventually, executed by the Israeli government. The public trial attracted the world’s attention, but at least one government was fearful of it, namely that of West Germany. The reason was Bonn’s concern that Eichmann might publicly name as responsible for the Holocaust several other Nazi officials, many of whom were living at the time in West Germany. Read more of this post

Did Jordan help Israeli Mossad abduct Gaza engineer?

Dirar Abu Sissi

Dirar Abu Sissi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
This blog has covered the case of Dirar Abu Sissi, a Jordanian-born engineer in the Gaza strip who was abducted in the Ukraine by Israeli spy agency Mossad on February 19. Sissi had traveled to Ukraine, birthplace of his wife, to apply for citizenship in the Eastern European country. But he disappeared in the early hours of February 19, shortly after boarding a train from Kharkiv to Kiev, in order to reunite with this brother, a Dutch national, whom he had not seen since 1997. His disappearance remained a mystery until the United Nations High Commission for Refugees told the Associated Press that Sissi had been kidnapped by Israeli operatives and had been secretly transported to a prison in Israel. His whereabouts were later confirmed in a report by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. But some observers now suspect that the Israelis did not act alone during the abduction operation. Dirar’s brother, Yousef Abu Sissi, has spoken to American journalist Richard Silverstein about his brother’s trip from the Gaza Strip to Ukraine, prior to his abduction. He told Silverstein that Dirar’s trip involved an initial flight from Egypt to Jordan. It was there, according to Dirar’s brother, that the Gaza resident was detained by Jordanian intelligence. The latter confiscated his passport, refused to allow him to board his flight to Ukraine, and held him at the airport through the night. Read more of this post

Analysis: Spy Agencies Failed to Predict Egypt Uprising

Egypt uprising

Egypt uprising

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
It is becoming increasingly clear that the ongoing popular uprising in Egypt represents the most important geopolitical development in the Middle East since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. In light of this, it is remarkable how unprepared foreign intelligence agencies have proven in forecasting the crisis. Even the Israelis were caught completely unaware: on January 25, the day when massive protests first erupted across Egypt, Major General Aviv Kochavi, newly appointed head of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate, told a Knesset committee that “there are no doubts about the stability of the regime in Egypt” and that “the Muslim Brotherhood is not organized enough to take over”. Instead, Kochavi focused on political volatility in Lebanon; ironically, the latter now seems like an oasis of tranquility compared to the explosive state of Egyptian politics. If the Israelis, whose very concept of national security is inextricably linked with developments in Cairo, were so unsuspecting of the popular wave of anger against the thirty-year dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak, one can only imagine Washington’s surprise at the protests. Click here to read my article in Intelligent-Intelligence.com, a specialist publication edited by Kyle Cunliffe. Continue reading →

News you may have missed #429 (CIA edition)

CIA hid terrorism prisoners from US Supreme Court

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Central Intelligence Agency purposefully concealed at least four terrorism detainees from the US legal system, including the Supreme Court, according to an exclusive report by the Associated Press. The news agency has revealed that the CIA secretly transported the four to Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp on Cuba in 2003, two years before it publicly admitted their capture. It then secretly transferred them again to other sites in its black site prison network in various countries around the world, just three months before their prolonged stay at Guantánamo would entitle them to legal representation. While at Guantánamo, the four prisoners, Abd al-Nashiri, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, Ramzi Binalshibh and Abu Zubaydah, were kept at a facility known as ‘Strawberry Fields’, which is detached from the main prison site at the bay. By hiding the four, the Bush Administration managed to keep them under CIA custody while denying them legal representation for two years longer than allowed by US law. It also concealed their detention from national and international human rights monitoring bodies and from the US justice system, including the Supreme Court. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #352

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CIA ‘used fake British passports’ in kidnap operation

UK passport

British passport

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
British authorities are looking into allegations that a team of CIA agents made use of forged British passports during an abduction operation in 2003. The allegations surfaced last week in Spain, where a team of prosecutors is currently investigating the activities of 13 CIA agents (11 men and two women) who appear to have used the Spanish tourist resort of Majorca as a base for conducting various operations around Europe. Following the example of Italy, which last year convicted several CIA operatives for illegally abducting a Muslim cleric in Milan, Spanish authorities are now considering issuing arrest warrants for the 13 CIA agents. They are all believed to have been involved in the abduction and rendition of German citizen Khaled El-Masri. El-Masri was abducted in Skopje, Macedonia, in 2003, and later transferred on a secret CIA flight to a Syrian prison, where he says he was brutally tortured. He was later released without explanation, once US authorities realized they had the wrong man. Read more of this post