Germany arrests Jordanian intelligence operative who spied on mosque

Hildesheim mosqueAuthorities in Germany announced yesterday the arrest of a German national who is accused of spying on a central German mosque on behalf of Jordan, according to media reports. The man was reportedly arrested on Tuesday at an unknown location by officers of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). In a press statement, the agency said the man is a 33-year-old German national named “Alexander B.”. German privacy rules forbid the public identification of crime suspects prior to their conviction in a court of law.

According to the public statement issued by the BfV, the 33-year-old man is believed to have worked for “a Jordanian intelligence agency” —most likely the Jordanian General Intelligence Department, or GID, which is a branch of the Jordanian Armed Forces— since at least 2016. He is accused of having infiltrated a Sunni mosque in the central German city of Hildesheim, located 20 miles southeast of Hanover in Germany’s Lower Saxony region. His mission, according to the BfV, was to keep tabs on mosque goers who expressed support for the ideology of the Islamic State, and might even consider traveling to the Middle East to join the radical group. The alleged Jordanian intelligence operative was also tasked with reporting on news reaching the mosque from those of its members who had already gone to the Middle East and joined the Islamic State.

Last year, German authorities closed down the Hildesheim mosque, known in German as Deutschsprachiger Islamkreis Hildesheim e. V. (DIK), and arrested its imam, Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A., known as Abu Walaa. The Iraqi-born imam was charged with supporting a foreign terrorist organization by actively recruiting young Muslims on behalf of the Islamic State. The mosque has since remained closed, because authorities believe that it had become a beehive of fundamentalist activity. Jordan is one of the Middle East’s most liberal states and has been targeted repeatedly by the Islamic State, which views its leadership as pro-Western. However, it appears that Alexander B. was spying on the Hildesheim mosque —therefore on German soil— without having informed the host country of his activities. The government of Jordan has not commented on his arrest.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 09 August 2018 | Permalink

US Special Forces soldiers killed in Jordan were with the CIA, say officials

JordanThree United States Special Forces soldiers who were killed outside a Jordanian military base earlier this month were working for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to American government officials. The three soldiers were shot dead on November 4 by a Jordanian soldier, who was subsequently wounded in an exchange of fire, according to reports. The US Department of Defense said the three men were members of the 5th Special Forces Group based in Fort Campbell, a US Army installation located in the American state of Kentucky. They were reportedly shot as they were attempting to enter the Prince Faisal Air Base, located in Jordan’s southern desert, 150 miles south of the capital Amman.

It is believed that the three soldiers were members of a 2,000-strong contingent of American troops who are currently stationed in the Arab country as part of Washington’s involvement in the regional war against the Islamic State. Some of these troops are assigned as advisers to Jordanian military units stationed at the border with Syria. But many others are allegedly involved in training so-called moderate Syrian rebel factions who are fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as other rebel groups on the ground. According to The Washington Post, the three American soldiers were among the trainers and were detailed to the CIA while they were in Jordan.

Details of the incident that led to the death of the three Americans are still unclear and are reportedly being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Jordanian sources allege that the US troops were returning to the base after a training session when one of their weapons accidentally misfired inside their vehicle. Thinking that they were under attack, Jordanian guards at the entrance to the base opened fire, killing the three Americans. But American officials told The Washington Post that the FBI is investigating whether the Jordanian soldier who opened fire on the US soldiers was an Islamist sympathizer.

If the three American soldiers were indeed detailed to the CIA, their killing will mark the most deadly incident involving CIA personnel since December 2009. Late that month, seven CIA personnel were killed in Khost, Afghanistan by suicide bomber who was masquerading as a CIA intelligence asset and managed to detonate a suicide vest inside a US military base. The Post said it contacted the CIA about the November 4 incident, but the Agency declined to comment.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 14 November 2016 | Permalink

Intelligence officers among five killed in rare terrorist attack in Jordan

Baqa'a JordanA rare armed attack on a Jordanian intelligence agency facility has left five people dead, including three intelligence officers. The attack took place on Monday at the General Intelligence Department (GID) building in the Baqa’a refugee camp, located just north of the capital Amman. Built in 1968, Baqa’a is the largest of Jordan’s 10 government-sanctioned refugee camps, and houses 100,000 Palestinians —approximately 10 percent of the country’s 1 million-strong Palestinian population. Witnesses said the attack was carried out by a single individual, who appeared to be operating alone. He is said to have slowly made his way up to the building before pulling a gun and shooting the guard dead. He then entered the building and began firing, killing four more people, three of them GID intelligence officers. He then fled the scene before police arrived.

Monday’s attack was an extremely rare terrorist incident in Jordan, whose population is largely shielded from the carnage in neighboring Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The last time a major terrorist attack took place in Jordan was in 2005, when suicide attacks against three luxury hotels in Amman killed 60 people and injured near 100. The attacks was carried out by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the group that later rebranded itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In November of this year, a Jordanian police officer opened fire at a training center near the capital, killing five people, two of them Americans. He was later shot dead by security guards.

It is believed that Monday’s attack was carried out by someone who was inspired by ISIS. Jordan has been an ISIS target for a long time, because of its strategic alliance with the United States in the war against the militant Sunni group. Last year, the government of Jordan made the country’s Prince Hassan airbase available to the US-led coalition that is fighting ISIS. Additionally, Jordan is the only Arab country that is actively taking part in the bombing campaign against ISIS. Late on Monday, government sources in Amman said a suspect had been apprehended following a shootout with police in the Jordanian capital. He is said to have been acting alone. There is no word yet on whether he is a Jordanian citizen and/or a resident of Baqa’a.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 07 June 2016 | Permalink

Israel, Egypt, Jordan, enter ‘unprecedented’ intelligence-sharing agreement

Yair GolanThe governments of Israel, Egypt and Jordan have entered an intelligence-sharing agreement aimed at joining forces against the Islamic State, which a senior Israeli military commander has described as “unprecedented”. The comment was made on Wednesday by Major General Yair Golan at a press conference hosted by Israel’s Foreign Press Association. General Golan has been serving as Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces since late 2014.

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, General Golan said that intelligence was “the most important element in the whole system” when fighting an insurgency of the kind that the Islamic State is conducting in the Middle East. He went on to point out that Egypt is currently engaged in a war against Islamic State forces in the Sinai Peninsula, while “Jordan is terrified by the presence of the Islamic State in [its] cities and towns”. At the same time, Israel tries to “work with them in order to contribute something to their security”, he added, referring to Egypt and Jordan.

The two nations represent the only Arab countries that have signed peace treaties with the Jewish state. A peace treaty between Israel and Egypt was signed in 1979, whereas a similar agreement was struck between Israel and Jordan 15 years later, in 1994. General Golan cited the peace treaties between the three nations as the basis for the intelligence-sharing agreement. But he added that he would not describe the latter as “some sort of reconciliation” between Israel and the people of Egypt and Jordan. However, the agreement is “a good starting point”, he said, adding that he is “quite optimistic” about the future of Israel’s relations with Jordan and Egypt.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 21 April 2016 | Permalink

Turkish media disclose identity of alleged spy for Canada

Mohammed al-RashedBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
Turkish media have released the name, as well as video footage, of an alleged agent for Canadian intelligence, who says he helped three British schoolgirls travel to territory controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The three girls, aged between 15 and 16 years old, crossed into ISIS-controlled territory on February 17, after traveling by plane from London to Istanbul. The incident prompted international criticism of the Turkish government’s hands-off attitude toward a growing influx of Western Islamists who cross into Syria from Turkey, intent on joining ISIS. However, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week that the girls had been assisted by an intelligence agent working for a member-state of the military coalition fighting ISIS.

The minister declined to offer further details. But Turkish media eventually disclosed the identity of the alleged agent, who has been detained by authorities in Turkey as Mohammed al-Rashed. Also known as “Mohammed Mehmet Rashid” or “Dr. Mehmet Rashid”, the man is a Syrian national who claims to be working for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. According to Turkey’s pro-government daily Sabah, al-Rashed is a 28-year-old Syrian dentist who fled from Syria to Jordan in 2013 to escape the civil war there. While in Jordan, he sought asylum at the Canadian embassy in Amman. He was subsequently offered Canadian citizenship, said Sabah, in return for working as an agent of CSIS. According to the Turkish daily, al-Rashed then traveled to Canada, where he stayed for several months before returning to Jordan.

Sources in Turkey say al-Rashed explained upon his detention that he had been tasked by CSIS to uncover the methods by which European and American ISIS recruits travel to Syria through Turkey. For that reason, he said, he had helped at least 15 individuals, including the three British schoolgirls, cross form Turkey to Syria. He would then provide information on the transfers —including passport data and baggage tags— to the Canadian embassy in Jordan, he said. Sabah added that the Canadians would pay for al-Rashed’s frequent trips to Jordan, where he would meet a Canadian embassy employee called “Matt”, who would then pass on the information to his superior at the embassy, called “Claude”. The Syrian alleged agent added that CSIS would compensate him for his work through frequent deposits of between $800 and $1,500 made to bank accounts opened in his name in British banks. Turkish sources added that al-Rashed had recorded details of his activities on a personal laptop, which had been seized and was being examined.

The Canadian government has yet to comment publicly on the allegations about al-Rashed. Unnamed Canadian sources said last week that he was neither a Canadian citizen nor a CSIS employee. But officials so far refused to speculate on what they describe as “operational matters of national security”.

News you may have missed #817 (assassinations edition)

Patrick FinucaneBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►British PM apologizes in killing of IRA lawyer. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, has apologized after a government report found that British intelligence officials had colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in the 1989 killing of lawyer Patrick Finucane in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Finucane, who had represented members of the Irish Republic Army in court, was shot dead by two gunmen from a Protestant paramilitary group while having a Sunday dinner at his home with his wife and three children.
►►Behind the plot to kill Afghanistan’s spy chief. On December 11, we reported that the Afghan government accused Pakistani intelligence of having played a role in the assassination of Assadullah Khaled, who heads Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security. But how was the attempt on Khaled’s life carried out, and how did the aspiring assassins get so close to the controversial intelligence chief? Time magazine reports that it was Khaled’s self-confidence “bordering on recklessness” that almost got him killed. Sources say that, even after taking over the NDS, Khalid frequently drove around without bodyguards.
►►How Mossad bid to kill Hamas leader ended in fiasco. Khaled Mashal’s recent presence in the Gaza Strip will have rudely reminded Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, of one of the greatest fiascos in the history of special operations, writes The Daily Telegraph‘s David Blair. Fifteen years ago, Netanyahu authorized a risky attempt to assassinate Mashal in the Jordanian capital, Amman. Everything went wrong. The Jordanian security forces responded to this brazen daylight attack, arresting two of the Israeli operatives and forcing three to hide in their country’s embassy, which was promptly surrounded by troops.

Israel asked for Jordan’s approval to bomb Syria, say sources

Regional map of SyriaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The government of Israel has sent Jordan at least two requests in the past two months to bomb targets in Syria, according to intelligence sources. The Atlantic magazine, which published the revelation on Monday, said Tel Aviv has been seeking Amman’s “permission” to move ahead with “a plan to take out many of Syria’s chemical weapons sites”. Citing unnamed “intelligence officials in two countries”, The Atlantic said that the Israeli requests were communicated to the Jordanian government by officials from the Mossad, Israel’s primary covert-action agency. In both instances, the Mossad delegation was allegedly dispatched to Amman on the orders of the Office of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister. However, the Jordanians are so far resisting the Israeli proposals, says The Atlantic, telling their Jewish neighbors that “the time [is] not right” for direct military action. It is worth pointing out that Israel does not technically require Jordan’s permission to bomb Syria. Its air force can do so without assistance from Amman. This was demonstrated on September 6, 2007, when Israel bombed a target at Al-Kibar, deep in the Syro-Arabian Desert, thought to be the site of a nuclear reactor. Even though Tel Aviv has not officially admitted a role in the attack, Israeli officials have repeatedly hinted that Israel was behind it. According to German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which published a detailed account of the bombing, the attack was codenamed Operation ORCHARD. The difference this time appears to be that many of Syria’s chemical weapons facilities, which Israel allegedly wants to destroy, are located along the Syrian-Jordanian border. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #806

Mohammed DahabiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Most staff at US consulate in Libya were CIA personnel. Most of the personnel attached to the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the Libyan city where a US consulate was attacked ending with the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were spies, according to The Wall Street Journal. The paper said 23 of the 30 Americans evacuated from Benghazi in the wake of the September 11, 2012, attack were employees of the CIA. Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, two of the men killed that day, and later publicly identified as contract security workers with the State Department, were in fact under contract with the CIA, said the paper.
►►India accuses Pakistan of printing counterfeit banknotes. The Central Economic Intelligence Bureau in India says that the Pakistani spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) is printing counterfeit Indian and Bangladeshi currencies from the state-owned security printing presses “under special arrangement” and circulating the same through a well-organized network, which is coordinated by senior ISI officials. This is not the first time that the Indian government has accused Pakistan of counterfeiting Indian currency.
►►Jordan court to announce ex-spy chief’s sentence on November 11. A Jordanian criminal court has postponed a verdict in the case of Mohammed al-Dahabi, who ran the General Intelligence Department between 2005 and 2008 and is on trial for alleged embezzlement of public funds, money laundering and abuse of office. Presiding judge Nashaat Akhras said in court Sunday that the verdict will be pronounced November 11, without giving a reason. Dahabi was arrested in February, when inspectors from the Central Bank of Jordan suspected transactions worth millions of dollars had gone through his bank account.

Jordan claims arrest of seven-member Syrian spy cell in Amman

Jordan and its surrounding regionBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Security services in the Kingdom of Jordan announced on Tuesday the detention of seven Syrian nationals who were allegedly caught with sophisticated communications devices in their possession. The announcement was made in a laconic press release issued early yesterday evening by Jordan’s Public Security Directorate (PSD), which is the Kingdom’s counterintelligence agency operating under the Ministry of the Interior. The press release said a Syrian national had been arrested in Jordanian capital Amman following “intelligence tips”. Following his detention, the man allegedly told his interrogators that he was a member of a larger Syrian spy cell active in and around Amman. On Monday, PSD forces conducted simultaneous raids across Amman and the nearby city of irbid (50 miles north of the capital), and arrested another six Syrians. According to the PSD, the detainees were found to be in possession of 35 “advanced communications devices” that are “banned in the Kingdom of Jordan”. Sources tell intelNews that the devices are portable two-way radio transceivers, which appear to be satellite-enabled and to have encryption capabilities. In addition to the transceivers, Jordanian counterintelligence allegedly confiscated three laptop computers and a “night vision device”. Special Police Force spokesman Mohammed Khatib told reporters on Tuesday that the seven Syrians were collaborating with Jordanian authorities, but refused to provide specific information on their identities, condition or whereabouts. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #749

Mohammed DahabiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Why did CIA Director secretly visit Czech Republic? The CIA Director, David Petraeus, is known to make frequent secret trips to places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iraq. But why was his recent trip to the Czech Republic kept secret? Photographs published in a Czech daily paper showed the CIA director and his team boarding a military plane at Prague’s Ruzyne Airport, headed for their next destination, Sofia, Bulgaria. But neither the US Embassy in Prague, nor the CIA will respond to questions by Czech media about Petraeus’ secretive visit to the former Soviet Bloc nation.
►►Jordan’s ex-spy chief on trial for corruption. Jordan’s former spy chief, General , who headed the General Intelligence Department (GID) from 2005 to 2009, has gone on trial in Amman on charges of corruption, which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. In a case highlighting corruption in the country’s vaunted intelligence community, the prosecutor said Dahabi’s wealth had quadrupled during his years in office, reaching almost $40 million by the end of 2011. The money, he said, was held in several foreign currency accounts in a leading domestic bank.
►►CIA still refuses to comment on Predator drone attacks. The Central Intelligence Agency continues to refuse to confirm or deny the covert military use of drones to kill suspected terrorists overseas. This is despite numerous public comments on the CIA’s drone attacks in far-flung locales such as Yemen from various government officials, including former CIA Director Leon Panetta and US President Barack Obama. The development comes as 26 members of Congress asked Obama, in a letter, to consider the consequences of drone killing and to explain the necessity of the program.

Jordan issues ‘immediate travel ban’ against former spy chief

Mohammed DahabiBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The former director of Jordan’s powerful intelligence service has been barred from leaving the country and has had his personal and family assets frozen, according to reports from the Middle Eastern country. General Mohammed Dahabi assumed command of Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID) in 2005, after which time the agency began working particularly closely with the United States Central Intelligence Agency. By January of 2008, when a royal decree replaced General Dahabi with Mohammed al-Raqqad, many intelligence observers were describing the GID as “America’s most valuable intelligence partner in the Arab world”. But French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) reported on Wednesday that the General Prosecutor’s Office in Jordanian capital Amman had ordered an “immediate travel ban” against General Dahabi, and declared all his known assets frozen until further notice. The AFP report quoted an anonymous “judicial source”, who told the agency that the order was signed by Amman’s Prosecutor-General Mohammed al-Surani, something that signifies the consent of Jordan’s highest governing echelons —namely the royal family. Reports from Amman suggest that the Prosecutor General’s order was issued less than 24 hours after the Central Bank of Jordan, which is totally owned by the government, filed “a complaint” against the former spy chief. No further details were been given to the media, but similar “complaints” from the Central Bank of Jordan in the past have usually concerned allegations of extensive money laundering. Last month, Jordan’s King Abdullah II launched —amidst great fanfare— a new national anti-corruption campaign, aimed at increasing the government’s popularity among younger voters. The campaign was launched in response to the increasingly vocal Jordanian opposition, which is inspired by events surrounding the Arab Spring, and accuses Jordan’s royal family of nepotism and corruption. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #602 (Israel edition)

Ahmed Jamal Daif

Ahmed Jamal Daif

►►Lebanon arrests three suspected of spying for Israel. Lebanon has arrested three people suspected of spying for Israel and trespassing, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported Tuesday. According to the report, an Egyptian citizen and his wife were arrested on suspicion of spying, and an Arab-Israeli man was arrested on suspicion of trespassing. The Israeli, Ahmed Jamal Daif (pictured), was found on Monday in a diving suit on a beach in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura, a Lebanese army source said.
►►Egypt may release alleged Israel spy. Agence France Presse is reporting that Cairo is considering the release of alleged Israeli spy Ilan Grapel, in exchange for “political and economic incentives” offered by the United States. Grapel was arrested by Egyptian state security officers in June, on charges of spying for Israel. According to one source, former CIA Director and current US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is set to visit Egypt today and is supposed to “take Grapel with him at the end of his visit”.
►►Jordanian accused of spying for Israel pleads not guilty. A Jordanian telecommunications engineer, who is on trial in Egypt on charges of spying for Israel, pleaded not guilty on Sunday. Bashar Ibrahim Abu Zeid was detained in Egypt last April after intelligence information allegedly showed he was spying for the Mossad, with Ofir Herari, an alleged Mossad agent, being tried in absentia.

News you may have missed #569

China & Taiwan

China & Taiwan

►►Taiwan begins to deal with its amateur spies caught by China. We have written before about the army of businessmen recruited by Taiwan’s Military Information Bureau (MIB). Many of these amateur spies were sent to collect intelligence in mainland China, often with minimal training or institutional support. Predictably, many were arrested, and dozens are believed to remain in China’s prisons today.
►►Egypt to try Israeli on espionage charges. And, no, it’s not Ilan Grapel, the American-Israeli who was arrested on espionage charges earlier this summer, and who is still in prison in Egypt. This case concerns another alleged Mossad operative, Ofir Herari, who has allegedly escaped and will be tried in absentia. Another man, Jordanian telecommunications engineer Bashar Ibrahim Abu Zeid, has been apprehended on charges of collaborating with Herari. He will be tried for “spying for a foreign country with the purpose of harming Egyptian national interests”.
►►Pakistan ‘gave China access’ to US copter used in bin Laden raid. According to a report in The New York Times, in the days after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Pakistan’s intelligence service “probably allowed” Chinese military engineers to examine the wreckage of a stealth American helicopter that crashed during the operation. This is the view of Read more of this post

News you may have missed #560 (new books edition)

Khalil al-Balawi

Khalil al-Balawi

►►New book on CIA’s Khost bomb disaster. Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick has authored a new book, examining the December 31, 2009, killing of seven CIA operatives by Jordanian doctor Humam Khalil al-Balawi in Khost, Afghanistan. In the book, entitled The Triple Agent, Warrick quotes several “anonymous” sources from within CIA and Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID), which was involved in running al-Balawi. Aside from blaming GID, Warrick says the CIA’s Amman station chief was partly responsible for the botched operation.
►►Hollywood producer was Mossad spy, says new book. The book Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan, says that Milchan was a full-fledged operative for Israel’s now-defunct intelligence agency, Lakam. The agency, which was also known as Israel’s Bureau of Scientific Relations, collected scientific and technical intelligence abroad. It was disbanded in 1986 following the arrest of US Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard for engaging in espionage on behalf of Israel. The book’s authors, Meir Doron and Joseph Gelman, argue that Milchan, who produced such movies as Love and Other Drugs and Knight and Day, worked for Israeli intelligence by supervising government-backed accounts and front companies that financed “the special needs of the entirety of Israel’s intelligence operations outside the country”.
►►Book alleges US-Russian spy swap deal. In 2010 the CIA considered a swap deal that would have delivered to Moscow two Americans currently imprisoned in the US for spying for Russia. This information is included 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