Italian mafia may be supplying weapons to ISIS, say investigators

AK-47Organized criminal groups in southern Italy may be supplying assault weapons to groups and individuals that are associated with the Islamic State, according to European investigators. British newspaper The Guardian said last week that security officials in Italy, Britain, and elsewhere in Europe have traced weapons used by Islamists to at least one arms cache that entered the European black market through a Sicilian crime family with links to the mafia.

According to The Guardian, the initial link to the supply of weapons seems to originate with an organized criminal family in Catania, on Sicily’s eastern coast. The family, known locally as the “Ceusi”, is part of the “Santopaula” clan, which is the dominant criminal network in that part of Italy. Investigators have confirmed that two years ago the Ceusi family purchased a cache of 160 deactivated AK-47s from AFG Security Corporation, a Slovakia-based European weapons dealer. The purchase of the weapons, for $40,000, was legal. But the Sicilian mafia then illegally reactivated the weapons by removing the deactivating metal pins that had been inserted into the weapons’ barrels. The reactivated weapons were then supplied to the ’Ndrangheta, the Italian organized crime network that operates in the region of Calabria, in the Italian mainland. In turn, the ’Ndrangheta, which specializes in the trafficking of contraband to and from Europe, sold many of these reactivated weapons to a smuggling ring headquartered in the Egyptian port of Alexandria.

It was the Egyptian network, say investigators, that sold the AK-47s to Islamist militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, who have close connections with the Islamic State in Syria and other Islamist groups. A few of the weapons even ended up in the hands of European Islamists in France and elsewhere. Much of the intelligence regarding the AK-47s comes from telephone intercepts, said The Guaridan. But the newspaper cautioned that concrete links between the Mafia and the Islamic State have not yet been established. Nevertheless, the paper said that, according to European investigators, “organized criminals are increasingly open to trading with extremists”, and there are mounting “signs of an even closer relationship between organized criminals and Islamists” operating in North Africa and the Middle East.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 26 July 2016 | Permalink

News you may have missed #757

Jonathan Jay PollardBy TIMOTHY W. COLEMAN | intelNews.org |
►►US government Pollard video declassified. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request initiated by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, the Defense Intelligence Agency has released a 14-minute instructional video, which cites the Jonathan Pollard spy case. Pollard was a US Naval intelligence officer who for over 18 months provided thousands of classified documents to the Israelis government. He is serving a life sentence. The DIA’s Office of Security and Counterintelligence produced the instructional video in 1987 to urge employees to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior of fellow employees and to encourage them to report known security violations immediately. The video interviews an actor portraying the government employee who first reported Pollard’s espionage activities.
►►Senior CIA officer accused of being Mafia hitman. Enrique “Ricky” Prado’s resume reads like the ultimate CIA officer: a candidate for the CIA’s most senior post in South Korea, a top spy in America’s espionage programs against China, and deputy to Cofer Black, a chief strategist in America’s war on terror. But he is also alleged to have started out a career as a hitman for a notorious Miami mobster, and kept working for the mob even after joining the CIA. Finally, he went on to serve as the head of the CIA’s secret assassination squad against Al-Qaida. That’s according to journalist Evan Wright’s blockbuster story How to Get Away With Murder in America, distributed by Byliner. In it, Wright compiles lengthy, years-long investigations by state and federal police and tracks the history of Prado’s alleged Miami patron and notorious cocaine trafficker, Alberto San Pedro, and suspicions that Prado moved from a secret death squad from the CIA to notorious mercenary firm Blackwater.
►►Colombian pleads guilty to spy charges in Nicaragua. As previously reported on this blog, Luis Felipe Rios, a 34-year-old Colombian national, was arrested for espionage in Nicaragua on June 15. The Inside Costa Rica news agency says Rios admitted he was indeed committing espionage on behalf o foreign nation, and he is providing Nicaraguan authorities with all the details. Rios will likely be sentenced on July 9 and he faces up to 16 years in prison for violating Nicaragua’s state secrets and state intrusion laws.

Documents detail history of previously unknown US spy agency

John V. Grombach

J.V. Grombach

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A collection of tens of thousands of documents discovered in a barn in a small Virginia town, have brought to light the history and operations of a previously unknown US spy agency that competed for prominence with the CIA during the early stages of the Cold War. The secrecy-obsessed agency was known at various times as the Secret Intelligence Branch, the Special Service Branch, the Special Service Section, or the Coverage and Indoctrination Branch; but insiders referred to it simply as “the Lake” or “the Pond”. It was created in late 1942 by the then newly established US Department of Defense, whose officials did not approve of the civilian character of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), forerunner of the CIA. In its 13-year existence, the Pond operated on a semi-autonomous base under the Departments of Defense and State, but maintained a poor relationship with the CIA, which it considered too “integrated with British and French Intelligence and infiltrated by Communists and Russians”. This information is contained in the files, which were stored in several safes and filing cabinets by the organization’s secretive leader, US Army Colonel John V. Grombach, who died in 1982. Read more of this post