News you may have missed #477 (Germany edition)

  • German ex-foreign minister in spat with ex-CIA director. Former CIA Director, George Tenet, claims that he discovered “too damn late” that Curveball –the Iraqi defector who became a key source for the CIA and the German secret service (BND)– was a fabricator. But Germany’s former foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, has told journalists that the BND did in fact share its doubts about Curveball with the CIA.
  • German spy chief claims Mubarak to stay in Egypt [unconfirmed]. According to German newspaper Die Welt, Ernst Uhrlau, director of Germany’s BND federal intelligence agency, says he has “no evidence that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak wants to leave the country, and that his comment that he intends to stay and be buried in Egypt “is credible”.
  • Austrian on trial in Germany on charges of spying for Russia. An Austrian soldier is on trial in Germany, accused of spying for Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and passing on sensitive information about European helicopter prototypes. Prosecutors at the Munich court allege that the unnamed 54-year-old Austrian army mechanic spied from 1997 to 2002.

Israeli minister in handshake debacle with Saudi spy chief

Danny Ayalon

Danny Ayalon

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Much has been made of an episode in the recent Munich Security Conference, in which Israel’s deputy foreign minister shook hands with Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence director. As is often the case in international conferences involving high-level participants from Israel and Muslim states, organizers at the Munich Security Conference went out of their way to ensure that Egyptian, Saudi, and –lately– Turkish government representatives were not to meet in the same seminars with Israeli officials. Participants were surprised, however, to see Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud, present in a seminar that featured a panel contribution by Israeli deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. During the remarks session, Ayalon expressed dissatisfaction with the Muslim participants’ insistence to stay clear of the Israeli delegation, to which Turki al-Faisal responded with reference to Israel’s recent diplomatic spat with the Turkish government. Read more of this post

Germany arrests Chinese informants for spying on exiles

Chinese consulate in Munich

Chinese consulate

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
German federal and local detectives yesterday raided the homes of four Chinese residents of Munich, who are suspected of spying on the city’s Uighur Chinese community on behalf of the government in Beijing. The four were charged after German counterintelligence agents spotted them holding secret meetings with a Chinese diplomat operating out of China’s consulate in Munich (photo). Munich has the world’s largest Uighur population outside of China, and is home to the World Uighur Congress, which Beijing views as an anti-Chinese organization. The Uighur people are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia, and are primarily concentrated in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0129

  • Romanian communist spy boss dead at 80. General Nicolae Plesita, who directed Romania’s Securitate during the country’s communist period, has died. While heading the Securitate’s foreign intelligence service, from 1980 to 1984, Plesita hired the Venezuelan-born operative Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal, to assassinate Romanian dissidents in France and bomb the US-owned Radio Free Europe offices in Munich, in 1981. In 1998, Plesita revealed that he had orders from the Romanian government to find temporary shelter for Carlos in Romania after the RFE bombing.
  • Settlement reached in DEA-CIA spying dispute. A tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought 15 years ago by a former US Drug Enforcement Administration agent who accused a CIA operative of illegally bugging his home. In a court filing, lawyers for the government and the DEA agent said they “had reached an agreement in principle to settle the underlying litigation”. See here for previous intelNews coverage of this case.
  • Federal judge denies request for CIA secret documents. Hundreds of documents detailing the CIA’s defunct overseas secret detention program of suspected terrorists, including extreme interrogation methods have remained secret after U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein on Wednesday refused to release them “in order to protect intelligence methods and sources”. The ACLU argues that the CIA secret program was illegal under international and US law, that it involved the torture and deaths of some inmates, and therefore should not be shielded from public view.

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Secret CIA program involved assassinations of suspects

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Quoting “three former intelligence officials” The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that the secret CIA program, which recently alarmed Congress, involved summary killings and assassinations of al-Qaeda operatives. Although the plan’s details remain highly classified, it appears that the CIA sought to set up specialized assassination squads, staffed with US Special Forces personnel, in an attempt to copy the Israeli Mossad Operation Wrath of God (also known as Operation Bayonet) of the 1970s. Wrath of God, which involved targeted assassinations of individuals allegedly behind the 1972 Munich massacre, was described by Canadian journalist George Jonas in his 1984 book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, which also formed the basis for Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film Munich. The Wall Street Journal quotes an anonymous former US intelligence official who describes the CIA plan as coming “straight out of the movies […]. It was like: Let’s kill them all”. Read more of this post