Names of intelligence officials, agents, appear in Panama Papers

Panama PapersThe massive data leak of documents belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has revealed the names of intelligence officials and agents form several countries, who employed front companies to conceal their financial activities. According to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which was the initial recipient of the largest data leak in history last summer, the list of names includes intelligence officials from the Middle East, Latin America and Africa, as well as “close intermediaries of the [United States] Central Intelligence Agency”.

Referred to as ‘the Panama Papers’, the massive leak amounts to over 11.5 million internal files from Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s most prolific registrars and administrators of shell companies in offshore locations. Throughout its history, the company has created more than 300,000 shell companies, most of them in offshore tax havens like the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, or Guernsey. Its clients are offered the ability to incorporate a generic-sounding company and headquarter it in an offshore tax haven. In exchange for an annual fee, Mossack Fonseca provides the company with a sham director and shareholders, thus concealing the true owner and actual beneficiary of the business.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung said on Monday that senior intelligence officials from Rwanda and Colombia are listed as Mossack Fonseca customers, but did not report the names of the individuals. It did, however, single out the late Sheikh Kamal Adham, who was director of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate in the 1960s and 1970s. During his 14-year directorship of the GID, the agency became a leading intermediary between the CIA and Arab intelligence agencies, notably those of Egypt and Iraq. Sheikh Adham was also a personal friend of CIA Director George Bush, who was later elected US president.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Sheikh Adham is one of many individuals with close CIA links whose names appear in the Panama Papers. Another is Farhad Azima, an Iranian-born American businessman, who is rumored to have leased aircraft to the CIA in the 1980s. The American intelligence agency is said to have used the aircraft, which belonged to Azima’s Kansas City, Missouri-headquartered Global International Airways, to transport weapons to Iran. The secret transfers were part of what later became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, in which US officials secretly sold weapons to Iran in return for the release of American hostages held by Iran-linked groups in the Middle East. The funds acquired from these weapons sales were then secretly funneled to the Contras, a medley of anti-communist paramilitary groups fighting the Sandinista-led government of Nicaragua.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 13 April 2016 | Permalink

News you may have missed #615

Clair E. George

Clair E. George

►►Ex-KGB spy Litvinenko’s widow seeks donations. The widow of Alexander Litvinenko has appealed for donations to help expose her husband’s murderers. Marina Litvinenko said she has to know the truth about the Russian ex-KGB spy’s death in London on November 23, 2006. He died of radioactive Polonium 210 poisoning in London’s University College Hospital. He had fallen ill shortly after drinking tea during a meeting with former KGB contacts at a West End hotel.
►►Memorial ceremony for controversial CIA figure. Clair George, who died in August from cardiac arrest at 81, has a rare status in CIA lore. He was the first high-ranking agency official to be found guilty of felony charges while carrying out official duties. Despite the public outrage about CIA actions during the Iran-Contra affair, George remained a popular figure among agency alumni because they believe his loyalty never faltered.
►►Taiwan intelligence agency accused of wasting money. Taiwan’s military-intelligence body has come under fire after one of its agents returned as a Le Cordon Bleu-certified chef following a so-called undercover mission in France. The agent, whose U$42,000 tuition for the cooking classes in France was sponsored by the military, has now lent his Le Cordon Bleu certificate to someone else for a fee, according to reports.

News you may have missed #573 (analysis edition)

Clair E. George

Clair E. George

►►New report details gaps in US spy collaboration. Nearly 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, US intelligence agencies are still struggling to strengthen the information sharing networks that broke down in 2001, according to the latest report by the US Congressional Research Service. Among other things, the 33-page report (pdf) points out that “agencies that obtain highly sensitive information are reluctant to share it throughout the intelligence community out of a determination to protect their sources”.
►►CIA Iran-Contra figure Clair George dies. Clair E. George, a consummate spymaster who was convicted of lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair, has died. George was known for operating in what spies call the “night soil circuit” –the less desirable posts of the world. He worked in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He was the CIA’s station chief in Beirut when civil war erupted there in 1975. He then volunteered to replace the CIA’s Athens station chief, who had just been assassinated by November 17 Revolutionary Organization.
►►Here’s why CIA ‘mind control’ lawsuit was thrown out. A very good and succinct analysis of why a federal lawsuit against the CIA by the Vietnam Veterans of America, for allegedly subjecting US military personnel to chemical, biological and mind control experiments, was thrown out of court earlier this month. It includes the CIA’s court filing in a pdf link, here.

Did Mossad kill German politician involved in Iran-Contra scandal?

Uwe Barschel

Uwe Barschel

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Accusations of Israeli involvement in the suspicious death of a German politician have been revived, following new autopsy evidence revealed by a medical examiner. The case involves the death of Christian Democratic Union politician Uwe Barschel, who on October 11, 1987, was found dead in the bathtub of room 317 of the Beau-Rivage hotel in Geneva, Switzerland. His sudden death occurred less than a month after he was forced to resign from the post of Governor of West Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein state, following his involvement in a dirty-tricks campaign against his rival Björn Engholm, of Germany’s Social Democratic Party. Swiss authorities, based on an initial postmortem that revealed lethal levels of barbiturates in Barschel’s system, ruled the death a suicide. But now Dr Hans Brandenberger, who was one of the toxicological experts that examined Barschel, claims that he is possession of new evidence that points to murder as the cause of the German politician’s death. Read more of this post

Retired US colonel charged with smuggling weapons to Somalia

Somalia

Somalia

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A retired US Air Force colonel, who was charged with weapons smuggling during the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, has been indicted again, this time for trying to smuggle automatic weapons into Somalia. US federal authorities accuse Joseph O’Toole, now 79, of conspiring with Israeli citizen Chanoch Miller, formerly an aeronautics engineer with Israeli defense firm Radom Aviation, to transport nearly 2,000  AK-47s from Bosnia to Banderal, Somalia. The smuggling operation, which employed forged end-user certificates issued in Chad, violated US weapons export control regulations, which are in compliance with a United Nations weapons embargo to war-ravaged Somalia. This is the second time O’Toole has been indicted with conspiring to smuggle weapons. In 1989, he was charged of working with fellow-American Richard St. Francis and Israeli alleged ex-Mossad operative Ari Ben-Menashe, to sell several US C-130 cargo airplanes to the Iranian government. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #384

 

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Analysis: Forged Irish passports have long history

Passports

Passports

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
At least six of the nearly 30 Mossad assassins who killed Hamas military official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last January in Dubai, used forged Irish passports to enter and leave the United Arab Emirates. This upset the Irish government, but did not surprise intelligence observers familiar with the long history of forged Irish passports in the international espionage and smuggling worlds. The Mossad and the CIA are among several intelligence agencies known to routinely rely on cloned Irish passports to enable their agents to move around the world undetected. In 1986, several Iran-Contra affair insiders, including US National Security Council member Oliver North, covertly traveled to Iran using forged Irish passports. The Provisional Irish Republican Army is also known to possess significant quantities of false Irish passports, which it uses to enable its senior members to network with supporters abroad. Read more of this post

Russia claims discovery of secret US-Georgia armaments channel

The PAC-3

The PAC-3

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Several Russian newspapers carried lead articles yesterday, describing the alleged discovery of a secret Washington-led project of supplying the Republic of Georgia with $100 million-worth of US weapons supplies. The articles cited “anonymous Russian intelligence sources” in claiming that the US is in the process of secretly providing Georgia with, among other things, a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) advanced surface-to-air guided missile air defense system. If true, the allegations could raise eyebrows in Congress, as the PAC-3 cannot legally be exported by the US government without explicit Congressional authorization. But Russian media report that, according to secret documents acquired by Russian military intelligence, the US government plans to circumvent Congressional scrutiny by delivering the weapons to Georgia through a private exporter, Barrington Alliance Inc., headquartered in Chicago, of which little is known. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0171

  • Court date for US couple accused of spying for Cuba. Walter and Gwendolyn Myers, who were arrested by the FBI last summer on charges of spying for Cuba for over 30 years, have a court appearance scheduled for Thursday. Meanwhile, the judge overseeing their case is trying to decide how to make evidence available for their trial while protect US intelligence sources and methods.
  • CIA responds to declassification request…20 years later. The CIA has finally released a small number of documents relating to Manucher Ghorbanifar, a shady weapons trader who mediated between Washington and Tehran during the Iran-Contra scandal. The declassification comes two decades after the Agency was asked to release the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request.
  • Kalmanovic was Shin Bet informant, says Ha’aretz. It is well known that Shabtai von Kalmanovic, who was gunned down in downtown Moscow on Monday, had worked for the Soviet KGB. He confessed as much and was jailed in Israel in the 1980s for spying. But Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that Kalmanovic was also “a Shin Bet [Israel’s internal security service] informant”. In a new article, the paper says Kalmanovic “was a low-level informer for the Shin Bet” before his arrest for spying for the KGB.

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Analysis: Why is Yemen Accusing Israel of Ties to Islamist Groups?

There is admittedly nothing new about the discovery of yet another Islamic militant cell in Yemen. Significant al-Qaeda presence has long been detected in that country. Eyebrows are bound to be raised, however, at news of a recent formal accusation by the Yemeni government that Israel offered to assist Islamist militants who had “prepared […] car bombs to attack governmental buildings and embassies”. Bizarrely, three Islamist militants arrested last week have been accused by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh of working for “a terrorist cell with links to Israeli intelligence, [which] ha[s] been dismantled”. On January 10, a Yemeni court heard that one of the accused militants communicated with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert via email, offering to collaborate with Israeli authorities in 2008. These allegations may seem ludicrous, to say the least. However, if true, they will not signify the first time that Israeli intelligence agencies have actively supported militant Islamist groups in the Middle East. Surprised? Joseph Fitsanakis explains.