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

News you may have missed #463

  • Iranian spy minister admits hacking emails. Iran’s Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi has publicly admitted that the Iranian government has hacked into the emails of Iranian opposition members. He claimed the hacking, conducted by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, revealed messages exchanged between “foreigners and their elements inside Iran”.
  • Details on CIA officer killed in Afghanistan. An interesting article in The Washingtonian offers an interesting background story on Jennifer Matthews, a CIA officer who was killed nearly a year ago in Afghanistan in a suicide bombing by Taliban double-agent Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi.
  • China jails South Korean alleged spy. China is getting tougher with South Korean spies caught on Chinese soil collecting intelligence on North Korea, and has jailed one of them for more than a year, despite pleas from Seoul, according to news reports.

News you may have missed #441

  • US officials admit terrorist suspect was DEA informant. US government officials have told The Washington Post what the world’s media has been saying for almost a year, namely that Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley, who was arrested by the FBI in October for plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper, was working as a Drug Enforcement Administration informant while training with Islamist insurgents in Pakistan.
  • Ex-CIA officer decries Israeli policies. Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer at the CIA, has said in an interview that Israel’s policies in Palestine “are manifestly evil”.
  • Bomber who killed seven at CIA base was not vetted. Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian al-Qaeda sympathiser who killed himself and seven CIA agents at a remote base in eastern Afghanistan in January had not been properly vetted, the CIA has said.

News you may have missed #374

  • South Korean general arrested for spying for North. South Korea’s military is investigating an army general, identified only as Major-Gen. Kim, suspected of leaking secrets to a former spy for Seoul who then sold the information to North Korea. The leaked information is reportedly related to Operational Plan 5027, formulated by the Korea-US Combined Forces Command (CFC) in preparation for a possible war on the Korean Peninsula.
  • A shared glimpse of CIA officer’s secret life. The family of the late Darren James LaBonte, who was among the seven CIA officers killed in Khost, Afghanistan, last December, decided recently to acknowledge that he was among the dead, and to tell the world a bit about the man behind the name. Meanwhile, the CIA has announced that 12 new stars will be added to the wall in the lobby of the agency’s headquarters building –the most in one year since the agency’s founding.

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News you may have missed #344

  • CIA base in Afghanistan hit again. A suicide car bomber killed one civilian and wounded two security guards at the entrance to the CIA’s Forward Operating Base Chapman, in Afghanistan’s Khost province. It is the same base where Jordanian suicide bomber Humam Khalil al-Balawi killed seven CIA officers in December of 2009.
  • Fiji to set up new spy agency. The government of Fiji plans to re-establish its intelligence agency, ten years after it was disbanded by Labour Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry. The new organization will be called the National Intelligence Agency of Fiji.
  • MI5 and MI6 must release Guantánamo records, says judge. MI5 and MI6 have been told by a British judge that they cannot use secret evidence to defend themselves from civil damages claims brought by six former detainees in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, including Binyam Mohamed.

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News you may have missed #316

  • News videos on UK expulsion of Israeli ‘diplomat’. Commendable video-based amalgamation by Newsy.com of worldwide media comments on the recent expulsion of an Israeli intelligence officer by the British government. The expulsion was in response to the forging of British passports, employed by the Mossad in the killing of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last January.
  • How Khost suicide bomber lured CIA agents to their deaths. According to the CIA’s internal investigation of the killing of seven CIA officers by Humam al-Balawi, in Khost, Afghanistan, last December, the fatal explosion happened as the CIA officers had gathered around Balawi to present him with a cake as a present for his birthday.

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News you may have missed #311

Al-Qaeda technical expert believed killed. Hussein Yemeni, an al-Qaeda bomb expert and trainer, is believed to have been among more than a dozen people killed in a CIA strike last week in Miram Shah, the largest town in Pakistan’s North Waziristan. Yemeni is thought to have had a major planning role in the December 30 suicide bombing in Khost, Afghanistan that killed seven CIA officers.

Al-Qaeda on the run, claims CIA director. CIA air attacks against al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal region have driven Osama bin Laden and his top deputies deeper into hiding and disrupted their ability to plan sophisticated operations, CIA Director Leon Panetta said Wednesday. Interesting; that’s not exactly what he said last week.

UK government defends use of foreign intel. The British Foreign Office has defended its use of intelligence obtained by foreign security agencies from terrorism suspects, even when it could not be sure how the informants had been treated. It’s not the first time this opinion has been expressed by a senior UK government source.

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Analysis: Taliban knew about US Special Forces presence in Pakistan

Bombed site in Shahi Koto, Pakistan

Bombed site

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
There has been remarkably little coverage in the US media of the deaths earlier this month of three US Special Forces operatives in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, who were killed in a bomb attack in the city of Shahi Koto. Most of the few analyses that have commented on the importance of this event have focused on the inevitable revelation that US troops are indeed active in Pakistan. But what about the intelligence angle? It appears that the bombing, which took place outside a newly built girls’ school in the town, was in fact aimed at the US troops, and that the attackers were aware of their supposedly secret presence in the area. The operation was therefore carefully targeted, and the suicide bomber appears to have patiently waited for the arrival of the Pakistani Frontier Corps five-vehicle convoy to arrive at the school. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0277

  • Western officials say a CIA air strike has killed Hakimullah Mehsud. Mehsud was the leader of the largest faction of the Pakistani Taliban, and one of the handlers of Humam Khalil al-Balawi, the Jordanian who killed seven CIA officers last December in Khost, Afghanistan. Mehsud took over the leadership of the Pakistan Taliban last August, after another CIA air strike killed his predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud (no relation).
  • US citizen requests North Korea asylum. An unidentified 28-year-old American man who crossed into North Korea from China has allegedly sought asylum because he did not “want to become a cannon fodder in the capitalist military”. He apparently told North Korean officials that he “wants to serve in the North Korean military” instead.

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News you may have missed #0271 (analysis edition)

  • Analysis: The Women of the CIA. Former CIA agent Valerie Wilson says the recent massacre of CIA agents in Khost, Afghanistan, shows that it is “time to recognize that women play a vital role in ensuring our national security and that they are very much on the frontlines, taking all the same risks but recognized and credited much less than their male counterparts” at the CIA.
  • Analysis: Google and the democratization of espionage. Roland Dobbins, a solutions architect with the Asia Pacific division of Arbor Networks, explains why the recent Google-China hacking affair is a perfect example of how the botnet has enabled what he calls “the democratization of espionage”.

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News you may have missed #0251 (analysis edition)

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CIA to continue working with Jordanians, despite suicide attack

GID logo

GID logo

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The vast majority of intelligence insiders, as well as intelligence observers, seem to agree that the CIA is determined to maintain its close links with Jordanian intelligence services, despite the December 30 suicide bombing that killed and injured 13 CIA personnel. Jordanian doctor Humam Khalil al-Balawi, who detonated a concealed bomb shortly after he was allowed into the US Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, had been recruited as a high-level informant by Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID). The Jordanian agency, which is known for its brutal interrogation tactics, is widely considered America’s most valuable intelligence partner in the Arab world. But the December 30 blunder, which resulted in the CIA’s second highest casualty disaster in its 63-year history, prompted some to question GID’s overall value. Read more of this post

Comment: CIA Deaths a Failure of Intelligence, Not Security

Khalil al-Balawi

Khalil al-Balawi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Early on Thursday, rumors began spreading among intelligence observers that the December 30 suicide blast in Khost, Afghanistan, which killed seven and seriously injured six CIA personnel, went off in the open air, and not inside a gym on the base, as had previously been reported. Soon afterwards, an article written by CIA director Leon Panetta for the Sunday edition of The Washington Post, dated January 10, was published by the paper two days early. The op-ed is an apparent attempt by the CIA leadership to officially get the word out that suicide bomber Humam Khalil al-Balawi “was about to be searched by our security officers –a distance away from other intelligence personnel– when he set off his explosives”, according to Panetta. Read more of this post

Comment: Is CIA Lying About its Blackwater Contacts?

Blackwater logo

Blackwater logo

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
After CIA director Leon Panetta revealed last summer that private contractor Blackwater was part of a covert CIA hit squad, tasked with summary killings and assassinations of al-Qaeda operatives, the CIA vowed to sever its contacts with the trigger-happy security firm. But did it do so? It doesn’t look like it. Last November, it became known that the company, (recently renamed Xe Services) remains part of a covert CIA program in Pakistan that includes planned assassinations and kidnappings of Taliban and al-Qaeda suspects. More recently, it was revealed that two of the seven Americans who died in the December 30 bomb attack at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, were actually Blackwater employees subcontracted by the CIA.

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News you may have missed #0246 (CIA bombing edition)

  • Analysis: Strike on CIA base tests US assessment of al-Qaeda. The militant group appears to have achieved a new level of sophistication and may not be as weakened as US officials had thought.
  • Photo of CIA suicide bomber published. Qatar-based Arabic news network Al Jazeera has published a photograph of Jordanian doctor Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 36, who last month killed at least 7 CIA agents in Khost, Afghanistan.
  • Al-Qaida CIA bomber was furious over Gaza war. Suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi was furious over Israel’s Gaza offensive, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on Thursday, citing the man’s sister.
  • Analysis: The view from Jordan on CIA’s deaths in Khost. For Jordan, far more embarrassing than its role in the Khost suicide bombing, is its connection with the CIA, which while relatively well-known before, has now been put out in the public sphere for all to see –especially the Arab street.
  • London Arabic newspaper visits home of CIA bomber. The Jordanian authorities have imposed a security cordon around al-Balawi’s family home, which is located in the residential al-Nuzha district, close to the Jabal al-Hussein Palestinian refugee camp in the Jordanian capital of Amman. But a London-based Arabic-language newspaper correspondent managed to visit the location and speak with the bomber’s family members and neighbors.

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