Analysis: Spy Agencies Failed to Predict Egypt Uprising

Egypt uprising

Egypt uprising

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, a specialist publication edited by Kyle Cunliffe. Continue reading →

Israel intel chief hints at role in Syrian nuclear facility bombing

Amos Yadlin

Amos Yadlin

Israel’s outgoing senior military intelligence chief has implied that Israel had a role in a mystery 2007 bombing of an undisclosed Syrian government facility, which is widely believed to have been a nuclear reactor. Speaking on Tuesday before the Knesset’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense, Amos Yadlin, who heads Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate, referred to having overseen intelligence operations against two nuclear programs during his tenure. Delivering a public statement before the Committee, Yadlin noted that he had “been through two wars and […] contended with two nuclear programs of enemy states”. Security observers consider this an indirect reference to Operation ORCHARD, the 2007 attack carried out by Israeli fighter jets in the night of September 6, 2007. The target location was Al-Kibar, a site deep in the Syro-Arabian Desert, twenty miles from Deir al-Zour. Neither Syria nor Israel have directly commented on the attack, which is widely thought to have targeted a Syrian nuclear reactor. Read more of this post

Malaysia to investigate alleged Israeli spy infiltration

Anwar Ibrahim

The Malaysian government has ordered an investigation into claims by a prominent opposition leader that Israeli spies, posing as communications technicians, infiltrated the headquarters of the country’s national police. Anwar Ibrahim, leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party), told the Malaysian parliament on April 4 that he was in possession of police documents confirming the infiltration. According to Anwar’s allegations, two former officers of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate were able to enter the head office of Malaysia’s national police, acting as representatives of a private communications technology contractor. While there, Anwar said, they were able to access the police’s communications network. Read more of this post

Lebanese officials claim arrest of Israeli spy

Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star quotes unnamed official sources who report the arrest of an alleged Israeli spy in the southern Lebanese city of Nabatiyeh. The arrestee has been identified as Kamal Faqih, a Lebaneze citizen who lived for several years in France before returning to Lebanon to work in the oil retail industry. Lebanese security sources claim Faqih was recruited either by Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate, or by Mossad, fifteen years ago while living in France. It is thought that Hezbollah, the Shia Islamic political and paramilitary organization that controls large parts of Lebanon, was initially alerted to Faqih’s “suspicious behavior” during the July 2006 Israel-Lebanon war. Read more of this post

Official history of Israeli spy services acknowledges US spying against Israel

American espionage conducted against Israel is hardly news. It is rare, however, that such operations –which are routine in nature– are acknowledged in official histories of intelligence institutions. Yet this is exactly what will happen this coming January, when a new official history of Israel’s intelligence services is published in Israel. Read more of this post

Israeli military intelligence chief wants dialogue with Iran

The Bush Administration continues to equate dialogue with its perceived enemies with appeasement. Yet even the Israelis are now showing signs of abandoning this policy. Earlier today the head of Israel’s military intelligence, Major General Amos Yadlin, stated that he was “not opposed to direct talks between Iran and the United States”, because “dialogue is not appeasement”. He also expressed the elementary diplomatic axiom that the spectacular drop in oil prices has rendered Iran “very susceptible to international pressure”. Yadlin also described Barack Obama’s capture of the US Presidency as having been received “with a sigh of relief in the Middle East, with cautious hope for peace”. So much for hawkish Israeli hardliners who are said to have hijacked US foreign policy toward Iran. [JF]