Suspicion mounts as US unlocks Moussa Koussa’s foreign assets

Moussa Koussa

Moussa Koussa

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Eyebrows were raised in intelligence circles on Monday, after the United States lifted its freeze of foreign assets belonging to Libya’s former intelligence chief, who defected to London last week. Libya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Moussa Koussa, who headed the country’s intelligence agency from 1994 to 2009, managed to escape to the UK from Tunisia on a Swiss-registered private airplane. He is currently reported to be in an MI6 safe house in England, allegedly being interrogated about his inside knowledge of the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi. But Koussa is also thought to be the mastermind behind the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed nearly 300 people. The 57-year-old defector is also believed to have facilitated Libya’s funding of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and to have authorized the assassination of several Libyan dissidents living in Britain. In light of that, the news that Washington lifted its sanctions on Koussa’s sizeable fortune abroad is worth noting. It is also interesting to note that Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, is reportedly pressuring European Union member-states to follow the US’ example in also unfreezing Koussa’s foreign assets. Read more of this post

Some spy news in the shadow of WikiLeaks’ revelations

Katia Zatuliveter

Katia Zatuliveter

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The WikiLeaks revelations continue, and so does the global news storm concerning the whistleblower site. Obviously, the news value of the WikiLeaks disclosures is unquestionable. However, there are notable intelligence-related developments taking place outside the now-familiarWikiLeaks context. Take for instance the recent arrest of what appears to be a Polish spy in Limassol, Cyprus. The unidentified man, who was reportedly detained in the vicinity of a Greek-Cypriot military base on the island, was carrying “a camera containing photos of National Guard posts, a laptop, two mobile phones, five memory cards, a GPS system and three pairs of binoculars”. Another interesting development concerns the arrest on espionage charges of Katia Zatuliveter, a Russian citizen who works as an assistant to British Member of Parliament Mike Hancock. Zatuliveter is expected to be deported on the basis of evidence gathered by MI5, Britain’s counterintelligence service, which has apparently been monitoring her for several months. Interestingly, Mr. Hancock, who is a member of the British House of Commons’ Defence Select Committee, is standing by his assistant. Read more of this post

Police see ‘professional job’ in British spy’s death

Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
As authorities investigate the recent death of British spy Dr. Gareth Williams, the country’s notorious tabloid media industry is having a field day disorienting interested observers. It is thus easy to miss important news breakthroughs in the cacophony of sensationalized headlines about Williams, whose body was discovered a week ago, stuffed in a sports duffle bag in the bath of his London apartment. One such breakthrough was yesterday’s report by Britain’s widely respected Channel 4, which said that law enforcement investigators described Williams’ death as “a neat job”, a term used to refer to professional killings. The Channel 4 report was preceded by strong official denials by police that Williams’ murder was sex-related, as had been previously reported. Some investigators now believe that Williams was killed by a foreign agent, who then deliberately “planted a trail of clues” pointing to a homosexual link to the death. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0281

  • US intel director confirms CIA can kill US citizens abroad. It’s official; speaking before the House Intelligence Committee, US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair acknowledged that President Obama is continuing a Bush-era policy authorizing the killing of US citizens if they are considered “a terrorist threat to the United States”.
  • Funny sign at CIA gift shop. Actual notice displayed at a CIA gift store inside the Agency’s Langley, VA, headquarters: “Don’t forget! If you are undercover, you cannot charge! It will blow your cover”. Good point.
  • Gordon Thomas’ Secret Wars out in paperback. IntelNews has received the new paperback edition of Gordon Thomas’ Secret Wars: 100 Years of British Intelligence. Joseph Fitsanakis reviewed the hardback edition last May.

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Abducted Iranian defense official reportedly held in Israel

 

Ali Reza Asgari

Ali-Reza Asgari

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Iran’s former deputy defense minister, who went missing during a 2006 official visit to Turkey, was kidnapped in a joint Israeli-German-British operation, according to an Iranian newsmagazine. Brigadier general Ali-Reza Asgari, who once commanded Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, disappeared on December 9, 2006, from his hotel room in Istanbul, Turkey. Little more than a year later, Hans Rühle, former Director of Policy Planning in the German Ministry of Defense, wrote in Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung that Asgari was in Western hands and that “information was obtained” from him. Since then, other sources have alleged that Asgari defected willingly, including Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post and intelligence historian Gordon Thomas, in his 2009 book Secret Wars: One Hundred Years of British Intelligence (see intelNews book review). Read more of this post

IntelNews reviews Secret Wars, by Gordon Thomas

Secret Wars

Secret Wars

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
IntelNews is pleased to present a review of Gordon Thomas’ book Secret Wars: One Hundred Years of British Intelligence (St. Martin’s Press, 2009), a useful historical narrative of MI5 and MI6, the publication of which coincides with the centennial year of Britain’s intelligence and security services. The book’s strength rests on Thomas’ skilled storytelling, which, coupled with some interesting new information, will appeal to both popular enthusiasts and scholarly devotees of intelligence history. Please click here to read the review. IntelNews is interested in reviewing both popular and academic publications on the politics of espionage and intelligence, intelligence history, analysis, terrorism and counterterrorism, as well as foreign policy, among other subjects. Authors, editors and publicists may contact intelNews for more information.

“Unprecedented” history of MI5 to be published in October

Dr. Andrew

Dr. Andrew

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The MI5, Britain’s foremost counterintelligence organization, made headlines in 2002, when it appointed Cambridge University history Professor Christopher Andrew to produce an authorized account of its long history. Now book publishers Penguin Group have announced that the book, titled Defense of the Realm, is to be published by Allen Lane in October 2009, in time to mark the agency’s centennial. Professor Andrew is well known for his considerable contributions to intelligence history scholarship, which include Comrade Kryuchkov’s Instructions (1991, with Oleg Gordievsky), For The President’s Eyes Only (1995), and of course The Mitrokhin Archive (1991, with Vasili Mitrokhin). Penguin has described Defense of the Realm as “unprecedented” and claims that “no major intelligence organization in the world has ever let an independent historian into its archives in this way” (though James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets may object to this). Read more of this post