Egypt busts alleged Israeli spy ring

Egypt

Egypt

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Authorities in Egypt announced Wednesday that they uncovered an espionage network, which they accuse of spying on the country on behalf of Israel. According to Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry al-Youm, which cited “informed security sources”, the alleged ring consisted of one Egyptian and several Israeli citizens, at least two of whom have been arrested. Other sources, however, state that the entire spy ring has been captured by Egyptian counterintelligence. The paper says that one of the detained Israelis entered Egypt in late January, carrying Jordanian travel documents and posing as a business executive interested in investing in the country. Al-Ahram has published a follow-up report suggesting that the alleged spy ring specialized on collecting information relating to the Egyptian military. The report also claims that the carrier of the Jordanian passport admitted before Egypt’s state prosecutor that he spied for the Mossad, Israel’s primary external intelligence agency. Al-Masry states that the alleged spy ring began its operations in Egypt following the January 25 revolution, with the aim of passing on information to Tel Aviv about the handover of power from the clique of former President Hosni Mubarak to Egypt’s military leadership, which has controlled the government since Mubarak’s ouster. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #477 (Germany edition)

  • German ex-foreign minister in spat with ex-CIA director. Former CIA Director, George Tenet, claims that he discovered “too damn late” that Curveball –the Iraqi defector who became a key source for the CIA and the German secret service (BND)– was a fabricator. But Germany’s former foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, has told journalists that the BND did in fact share its doubts about Curveball with the CIA.
  • German spy chief claims Mubarak to stay in Egypt [unconfirmed]. According to German newspaper Die Welt, Ernst Uhrlau, director of Germany’s BND federal intelligence agency, says he has “no evidence that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak wants to leave the country, and that his comment that he intends to stay and be buried in Egypt “is credible”.
  • Austrian on trial in Germany on charges of spying for Russia. An Austrian soldier is on trial in Germany, accused of spying for Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and passing on sensitive information about European helicopter prototypes. Prosecutors at the Munich court allege that the unnamed 54-year-old Austrian army mechanic spied from 1997 to 2002.

Mubarak delayed exit in order to move secret funds, say intel sources

Hosni Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
One of the reasons why Egypt’s disgraced ex-president kept prolonging his rule amidst ferocious anti-government protests this month, was to transfer billions of dollars-worth of personal assets into bank accounts around the world. British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph quotes a “senior Western intelligence official” who claims that Hosni Mubarak’s fund managers began transferring his extensive fortune to numbered bank accounts during the first days of the popular revolution in Egypt. The intelligence official told The Telegraph that Western intelligence services were “aware of some urgent conversations” within the Mubarak family about how to best protect their fortune from Egyptian and international financial investigators. The Mubaraks may have thus pre-empted the freezing of their accounts in Zurich, which was announced by the Swiss government on Friday. In this, Hosni Mubarak appears to have learned from Tunisia’s former dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was forced to flee with his family to Saudi Arabia last month, without the benefit of his Swiss bank assets. The latter were frozen following an official request by the Tunisian government. In the case of Mubarak, whose vast $70 billion fortune is mostly managed by his son Gamal, it appears that most of his Swiss bank assets were moved to accounts in third countries in the days before his resignation and are thus “gone by now”, according to one US government official who spoke to The Telegraph on condition of anonymity. 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 →

Analysis: What is the CIA doing in Egypt?

Egypt

Egypt

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Every time there is a popular uprising anywhere in the Muslim world, the minds of American intelligence planners go immediately to 1979, when the Iranian Revolution tore down almost overnight one of Washington closest allies in the Middle East. By ignoring the immense unpopularity of the Shah’s brutal regime, and by limiting its Iranian contacts among the pro-Shah elites in the country, the CIA was caught completely in the dark as the Islamic revolution unfolded. Could the same be happening now in Egypt? Hopefully not, says The Washington Post’s veteran intelligence correspondent Jeff Stein. As in the case of Iran under the Shah, the US has stood by the 33-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, choosing to abide by the simplistic dogma of ‘either secular repression or anti-American Islamism’. But, unlike 1970s Iran, one would hope that US intelligence agencies have been able to develop useful contacts across the fragmented but dynamic and energized Egyptian opposition community, says Stein, quoting former US Defense Intelligence Agency official Jeffrey White. It is unlikely that the CIA and other agencies have fully embraced persistent calls, such as those by Emile Nakhleh, former head of the CIA’s program on political Islam, to develop trustworthy contacts inside the Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood, as well as groups close to it, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Read more of this post