‘Lord of War’ weapons smuggler enjoys Russian protection

Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The case of notorious arms smuggler Viktor Bout is well known. Born in Dushanbe, Soviet Tajikistan, in 1967, Bout served in the GRU (Soviet military intelligence) until the collapse of the USSR, at which point he began supplying weapons to shady groups, ranging from Congolese rebels and Angolan paramilitaries to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In March of 2008, Bout, known as ‘Lord of War’, was finally arrested by the Royal Thai Police, after a tip by US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officers. The latter had managed to lure Bout to Thailand by pretending to be Colombian FARC arms procurers. Recently, Washington scored a second victory by convincing Thai authorities to extradite Bout to the United States on terrorism charges. Presumably, Bout will be tried as an arms smuggler acting on his own accord. But is this right? Read more of this post

News you may have missed #300

  • Indonesian activists capture government spy. Activists of the United Indonesia Movement (GIB) have captured a military intelligence officer, identified only as E.S., who was allegedly spying on their plans to prepare an anti-government rally on Tuesday. Last August, the Indonesian government denied rumors it planned to begin spying on Mosques around the country.
  • Former Monaco head-spy recounts meeting with Prince Albert. Former FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Eringer, who until recently was spymaster to Prince Albert II of Monaco, recounts how he was appointed to lead the principality’s intelligence service by the Prince himself.

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News you may have missed #0224

  • Parts 6 and 7 of CIA defector’s writings now available. Former FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Eringer has published the sixth and seventh installments (chapters 2 and 3 of “The Spy’s Cookbook”) of the writings of Edward Lee Howard, a CIA officer who defected to the USSR in 1985 (see here for previous intelNews coverage). In part six, Howard writes about the methodology of visiting (among other places) the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC. In part seven, he advises that the only time a double agent’s handlers should call the agent’s home is to tell him or her to “get out and leave the country!”.
  • Congressional vote on US PATRIOT Act delayed. The US House of Representatives tabled on Wednesday legislation to reform US domestic surveillance law. The Senate is likewise expected to delay the matter. The delays will automatically extend provisions of the PATRIOT Act that would otherwise expire at year’s end.

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News you may have missed #0221

  • Part 5 of CIA defector’s writings now available. Former FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Eringer has published the fifth installment of the writings of Edward Lee Howard, a CIA officer who defected to the USSR in 1985 (see here for previous intelNews coverage). In this part, Howard explains why Bratislava, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia), was a “good town for covert operations” and the KGB’s “favorite pad for launching agents into Western Europe”.
  • African Union investigates officials of spying. Two officials from the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) and the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) are reportedly under investigation for passing on sensitive information on AMISOM and Somalia to the US Defense Intelligence Agency and the South African Secret Service.

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News you may have missed #0214

  • Cuban Five member’s prison term cut to 30 years. A Miami court has reduced the earlier prison sentence of yet another member of the Cuban Five. Ramon Labanino has had his original sentence of life imprisonment cut to 30 years. The Cuban Five were sentenced in 2001 for spying on US soil for Cuba.
  • Part 3 of CIA defector’s writings now available. Former FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Eringer has published the third installment of the writings of Edward Lee Howard, a CIA officer who defected to the USSR in 1985 (see here for previous intelNews coverage). Did you know that “KGB officers always preferred Malév (Hungary’s national airline) whenever they crossed to [Western] Europe”?

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Writings by CIA defector Edward Lee Howard published

Edward Lee Howard

E.L. Howard

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
An extensive article on spy tradecraft, written by CIA case officer Edward Lee Howard, after he defected to the Soviet Union in 1985, has been published for the first time. Howard, the only intelligence agent known to have been trained by both the CIA and the Soviet KGB, joined the CIA in 1980, but began collaborating with the KGB in 1983, after the CIA fired him for repeatedly failing to pass a polygraph test. After he was exposed by Vitaly Yurchenko, a KGB officer who allegedly defected to the US in Rome, Italy, Howard employed his CIA training to evade FBI counterintelligence agents and escape to Russia, where he lived until his death in 2002. In the early 1990s, the FBI tried to lure Howard to capture, using, among others, Bureau counterintelligence agent Robert Eringer. Eringer befriended Howard and, as part of the luring operation, commissioned the former CIA agent to write a book entitled Spy’s Guide to Central Europe. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0194

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News you may have missed #0187

  • Cambodia arrests Thai for spying on exile leader. Cambodian authorities said the man, Siwarak Chothipong, who works for the Cambodia Air Traffic Service, spied on the flight itinerary of visiting former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been living in exile since a 2006 military coup in Thailand. The Thai government has rejected the charge.
  • CIA’s Panetta to visit India, Pakistan. CIA director Leon Panetta will visit Pakistan and India for three days, starting on November 20. IntelNews will be keeping an eye on his visit.
  • Former Monaco spymaster says prince invokes immunity. More on the saga of former FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Eringer, who until recently was spymaster to prince Albert II of Monaco, and is now suing him for €360,000 ($542,000) in alleged unpaid income. Eringer’s lawyers have accused Albert of invoking head-of-state immunity, “an absolute defense used by dictators around the world to avoid accountability in US courts”.

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News you may have missed #0172

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Prince Albert’s former spymaster airs Monaco’s ‘dirty secrets’

Prince Albert II

Prince Albert II

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last April I wrote that former FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Eringer, who until recently was spymaster to prince Albert II of Monaco, was completing a book on his experiences in the tiny principality, a project he began after leaving his post. But that’s not all. Eringer has now sued the prince for €360,000 ($542,000) in alleged unpaid income, including a severance pay package. The London Sunday Times, which has “obtained” a copy of Eringer’s lawsuit, says that the document “lays bare some of [Monaco’s] dirtiest secrets”. Among them are Eringer’s claims that he investigated activities in Monaco by Russian and Italian mobsters, that he was asked to “assist” a young woman who was romantically involved with prince Albert, and that he went after video evidence showing “a woman performing a sex act on the prince” at his 40th birthday party. Read more of this post

An April Fools story from Robert Eringer

Albert II

Albert II

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In his latest blog entry, former FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Eringer, who until recently was spymaster to Prince Albert II of Monaco, recounts an interesting story of deceit at the gaffe-prone Royal House of Monaco. According to Eringer, the tiny principality’s ruler, Prince Albert II, was recently fooled by an attractive 24-year-old blonde into believing she was the daughter of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The woman, whose name was Ekaterini (Catherine) was in fact Greek and spoke not a word of Russian. Eringer reports that the young woman convinced the Monegasque royal to patronize the local chapter of Green Cross International, an environmental action group she claimed to speak for. Read more of this post

Analysis: Why Did Bush Not Pardon Israeli Spy?

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In his latest article for The Santa Barbara News Press, Robert Eringer, the former FBI counterintelligence agent who now works for Prince Albert II of Monaco, reminds intelligence observers of the case of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Jay Pollard. Pollard, who has so far served 24 years of a life sentence, was found guilty in 1987 of spying on the US on behalf of Israel, while working as a US Navy intelligence analyst. Since his arrest and conviction, Pollard has been considered something of a national hero in Israel, and an enormous effort has been launched to secure his release. Israeli newspapers, whose articles routinely liken Pollard to Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Hamas in 2006,  disclosed earlier this month that a “massive campaign was conducted behind the scenes in Washington to persuade US president George W. Bush to commute Pollard’s sentence”. The effort, which included “tens of thousands of phone calls” that “flooded the White House”, was so enormous that several Israeli insiders considered Pollard’s release almost certain. Pollard remained imprisoned after all, and the question is, why did George W. Bush not succumb to these lobbying pressures? Read article →