News you may have missed #550

Sukhoi-27 jets

Sukhoi-27 jets

►►Chinese fighters chased US spy plane into Taiwan. It has been revealed that, late last June, The Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense sent two F-16 fighters to intercept a two Chinese Sukhoi-27 jets that crossed into its airspace, while pursuing an American U-2 reconnaissance plane. It was the first time that Chinese jets breached Taiwan’s airspace since 1999. The Pentagon declined to confirm the report, but some in Washington must have had flashbacks of the 2001 Hainan Island incident.
►►Israel arrests four of its soldiers for sabotaging spy gear. This story is interesting on numerous levels: according to a statement by the IDF’s Northern Command, Israeli military authorities plan to prosecute four Israeli female soldiers for repeatedly shutting off unspecified surveillance equipment designed to collect intelligence from neighboring Lebanon. When faced with the accusations, the soldiers apparently told their commanders that “they worked under very difficult conditions and couldn’t bear the pressure”.
►►Turkish national convicted for spying in Ukraine. Ukrainian prosecutors say Read more of this post

News you may have missed #538

Wali Karzai

Wali Karzai

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Egyptian diplomat dead in London after bizarre suicide attempt. Police in London are trying to solve the mysterious apparent suicide of Ayman Mohammed Fayed, a 41-year-old employee of the Egyptian embassy, who plunged to his death from one of the embassy’s third-floor windows last week. Embassy officials said he did so after hurriedly signing a brief suicide note to his family. Interestingly, one witness saw him trying to get back into the building from the window, apparently having changed his mind about killing himself. But, says The Daily Mail, he seems to have “lost control and fell”. The death does not seem to be related to the political changes that have taken place in Egypt this year. ►►CIA agent Wali Karzai dead in Afghanistan. Another death, that of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother, has featured all over the news media in the past few days. Ahmed Wali Karzai, Afghan drug lord and influential strongman, was shot dead by his bodyguards last Tuesday. Wali Karzai’s role as a CIA agent is less widely advertised in obituaries (with a few notable exceptions). IntelNews readers will remember that, in October of 2009, The New York Times revealed that Wali Karzai had been financially sustained by the CIA ever since the initial US invasion of Afghanistan, in 2001, and that he was still —as of 2009— receiving “regular payments” from the Agency.  Read more of this post

New Gaza flotilla organizers accuse Mossad of sabotaging ships

Gaza Freedom Flotilla raid

2010 Flotilla raid

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
International organizers of a new fleet of ships that is preparing to sail for the Gaza strip, in a bid to challenge the Israeli embargo, have accused Israeli intelligence services of secretly sabotaging two of the vessels. The first announcement emerged on Tuesday from the crew of the Juliano, a Swedish/Norwegian ship harbored in Piraeus, Greece. The organizers, who said that their technicians had documented the results of the sabotage on video, claimed in a statement that “hostile divers had destroyed the [ship’s] propeller house and cut the propeller shaft”. A day later, Irish organizers onboard the MV Saoirse, which is currently docked in Turkey, told Reuters that the vessel experienced major technical damage as it was sailing for refueling to the harbor town of Göcek. The ship was eventually inspected by a marine engineer, who confirmed that it had been sabotaged. Speaking to Irish media, former Irish rugby international Paul Trevor Hogan, who is one of the activists onboard the MV Saoirse, said the damage was “identical [to that of] the Swedish boat and you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out who is behind this”. Another member of the ship’s crew, Irish Member of the European Parliament Paul Murphy, called on the government in Dublin to expel the Israeli ambassador to the country. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #492 (history edition)

  • Holocaust spy’s memoir gets movie treatment. The extraordinary memoir of Jan Karski, a Polish resistance fighter who gave the first eyewitness report on the Holocaust to the Allies, is to be made into a film by the producer of The King’s Speech. In 1943, Karski escaped from Nazi-occupied Poland and went to London with a hidden microfilm, revealing the persecution of Europe’s Jews by the Third Reich.
  • British spy files shed light on Nazi saboteurs in the US. Declassified British intelligence files describe the activities of Nazi sabotage teams sent to the US in June 1942 to undermine the American war effort. A detailed new account of the German mission, code-named Pastorius, is provided in a report written in 1943 by MI5 intelligence officer Victor Rosthchild.
  • New information on Evdokia Petrova’s defection. New information has emerged on the 1954 defection to Australia of Evdokia Petrova, wife of Vladimir Petrov, who was the most senior Soviet intelligence official to have defected to the West until that time.

Israel sabotaged Egypt’s Internet, says alleged Mossad spy

Undersea Internet cable

Undersea cable

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Israeli sabotage was behind the nationwide crippling of Egypt’s Internet in 2008, according to an alleged Mossad agent. The accused agent, Abdel Razeq Hussein Hassan, is an Egyptian businessman who was arrested earlier this year by Egyptian counterintelligence and is accused of working for the Israeli spy agency. Two of his alleged Israeli handlers, Joseph Daymour and Idid Moushay, are reportedly on the run and are wanted by the Egyptian government.  Hassan is due to go on trial next month, but transcripts of his interrogation records have been leaked to Egyptian media. In one instance, Hassan appears to tell his police interrogators that a team of Mossad operatives deliberately cut two undersea cables about 5 miles off the north Egyptian port city of Alexandria, disrupting the country’s Internet service for several days. Read more of this post

Iran admits some of its nuclear scientists spied for the West

Ali Akbar Salehi

Ali Akbar Salehi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A top-level Iranian government official has admitted that some scientists and technicians in Iran’s nuclear energy program were successfully lured into spying for Israeli and Western intelligence agencies in the past. The disclosure, which was characterized as “stunning” by the Associated Press, marked the first-ever open admission by the Iranian government that the country’s nuclear energy program has been penetrated by foreign spies. It was made last weekend by Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s Vice President and Director of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization. According to the Iranian government-controlled Fars News Agency, Vice President Salehi told an audience that individual scientists and technicians working in Iran’s nuclear program had used their access to classified relevant information to benefit from “foreign purchases and commercial affairs”. Read more of this post

Experts see nation-state behind sophisticated computer virus attack

Ahmadinejad

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Computer forensics specialists are split as to the purpose and initial target of a sophisticated computer virus that infected computers used in the Iranian government’s nuclear energy program. The virus, named Stuxnet, was discovered in Iran in June by a Belarusian computer security firm doing business in the Islamic Republic. It has since infected at least 100,000 computer systems in countries such as Brazil, India, Russia and the United States. But the primary target of the virus appears to have been the Iranian nuclear energy program, specifically computers located at the Islamic Republic’s nuclear reactor facility in Bushehr and the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz. Several commentators, including Wired magazine, dispute the existence of any evidence pointing to a clear target inside Iran.  But Israeli media maintain that computers at Natanz were the primary target of Stuxnet, and that subsequent infections at computer labs at Bushehr were in fact an unintended side effect. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #435 (cyberwarfare edition)

  • Analysis: Cyber attacks test US Pentagon. US military and civilian networks are probed thousands of times a day, and the systems of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters are attacked at least 100 times a day. Meanwhile, more than 100 countries are currently trying to break into US defense networks.
  • US should be able to shut Internet, ex-CIA chief says. Cyberterrorism is such a threat that the US President should have the authority to shut down the Internet in the event of an attack, Former CIA Director Michael Hayden has said.
  • Iran battling alleged ‘spy virus’. Iranian officials have confirmed reports that a malicious computer code, called Stuxnet, was spreading throughout the nation’s nuclear infrastructure. But they have given differing accounts of the damage, said to be capable of taking over computers that operate huge facilities, including nuclear energy reactors. Did someone say ‘Israel‘?

Iran factory blast coincides with reported bomb attack on Ahmadinejad

Ahmadinejad

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Official Iranian denials of an alleged bomb attack on the life of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday have been followed by reports of a simultaneous attack on a state-of-the-art Iranian petrochemicals complex. Specifically, on August 4, Reuters news agency cited an Iranian “presidential office source” in reporting a strong blast “500 meters from Ahmadinejad’s motorcade”. The blast, which Reuters attributed to either a hand grenade or a homemade explosive device, occurred as the Iranian President was being transported from the regional airport of Hamadan, in western Iran, to the city’s sports complex, where he was scheduled to deliver a speech. Reuters’ unnamed source said the President escaped unhurt, but subsequent reports indicated that several other passengers on the motorcade were injured. Interestingly, President Ahmadinejad’s office initially appeared to confirm the assassination attempt, but soon afterwards official state news agency IRNA attributed the blast on “an excited young man from Hamadan [who] exploded a firecracker in order to express his happiness”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #373 (CIA edition)

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News you may have missed #368 (Gaza flotilla edition V)

  • Israelis sabotaged flotilla ships before departure. Israel gave strong indications today that its forces had secretly sabotaged some of the ships bound for Gaza as part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Comments to that effect by Israeli deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai appeared to dovetail with reports that two of the vessels malfunctioned at the same time and in the same way.
  • Activist website downed before Israeli attack on flotilla. The online home of the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH), one of the organizers of a convoy of six aid vessels bound for the Gaza Strip, was hit by a denial-of-service (DoS) attack moments before the Israel military brutally attacked the convoy in international waters on Monday.

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Author gets subpoenaed to reveal CIA sources

James Risen

James Risen

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The US government has issued a subpoena against a journalist who authored a book on the CIA’s operations during the years of the Bush administration. The move has surprised many, because the book in question, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, by New York Times journalist James Risen, has been out since 2006. The subpoena, which Risen received last Monday, requests him to testify before a grand jury about his confidential sources for chapter 9 of his book (pages 193-218), entitled “A Rogue Operation”, in which he describes in relative detail an attempt by the CIA to sabotage the Iranian nuclear weapons program. In the chapter, Risen writes of a thwarted CIA operation to pass to the Iranians a series of faulty nuclear bomb design documents. To do this, the Agency apparently recruited a Russian former nuclear scientist, who had defected to the United States. The unnamed scientist was told to travel to Vienna, Austria, in early 2000, and offer to sell the documents to the Iranians. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0039

  • Russians suspect sabotage behind ICBM test failure. The FSB is investigating the reasons behind the test failure earlier this month of a Russian Navy Bulava-30 (SS-NX-30) sea-based intercontinental ballistic missile, which disintegrated 28 seconds after launch. The Russian Navy developed the ICBM specifically to avoid future US ballistic missile defenses.
  • CIA kept bin Laden son’s death secret for months. US officials think that Saad bin Laden was killed in a Predator drone strike earlier this year in Pakistan, but CIA has tried to keep the news secret, allegedly in an attempt to confuse al-Qaeda. You may recall that some time ago intelNews reported that some in US intelligence believed Saad had been given government protection in Iran.
  • US DNI sees signs of North Korean succession. The Open Source Center of the US Directorate of National Intelligence adds its voice to widespread speculation that Kim Jong il may be preparing to hand power to his third son, Kim Jong Un.

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Intelligence sources say US electric grid hacked by foreign spies

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
In yesterday’s edition, The Wall Street Journal quoted senior US intelligence sources, including former Homeland Security Department officials, who said that foreign spies have penetrated the electronic infrastructure of America’s electrical supply grid. The officials said the hackers, who have reportedly been traced to Russia and China, among other countries, do not currently appear intent on disrupting the system. Instead, they seem to be “on a mission to navigate [and map] the US electrical system and its controls”, allegedly so that they can sabotage it “during a crisis or war”. Interestingly, the discovery was reportedly made not by utility company technicians, but by US intelligence agents engaged in monitoring cyber-intrusions into the nation’s electronic infrastructure. Read more of this post

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