Jordan issues ‘immediate travel ban’ against former spy chief

Mohammed DahabiBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The former director of Jordan’s powerful intelligence service has been barred from leaving the country and has had his personal and family assets frozen, according to reports from the Middle Eastern country. General Mohammed Dahabi assumed command of Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID) in 2005, after which time the agency began working particularly closely with the United States Central Intelligence Agency. By January of 2008, when a royal decree replaced General Dahabi with Mohammed al-Raqqad, many intelligence observers were describing the GID as “America’s most valuable intelligence partner in the Arab world”. But French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) reported on Wednesday that the General Prosecutor’s Office in Jordanian capital Amman had ordered an “immediate travel ban” against General Dahabi, and declared all his known assets frozen until further notice. The AFP report quoted an anonymous “judicial source”, who told the agency that the order was signed by Amman’s Prosecutor-General Mohammed al-Surani, something that signifies the consent of Jordan’s highest governing echelons —namely the royal family. Reports from Amman suggest that the Prosecutor General’s order was issued less than 24 hours after the Central Bank of Jordan, which is totally owned by the government, filed “a complaint” against the former spy chief. No further details were been given to the media, but similar “complaints” from the Central Bank of Jordan in the past have usually concerned allegations of extensive money laundering. Last month, Jordan’s King Abdullah II launched —amidst great fanfare— a new national anti-corruption campaign, aimed at increasing the government’s popularity among younger voters. The campaign was launched in response to the increasingly vocal Jordanian opposition, which is inspired by events surrounding the Arab Spring, and accuses Jordan’s royal family of nepotism and corruption. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0220

  • More on sudden death of Jordan’s ex-spy chief. The Washington Post‘s David Ignatius is one of a handful of US columnists who are paying attention to the sudden death in Vienna, Austria, of Saad Kheir, 56, former director of Jordan’s General Intelligence Department.
  • Deposed Thai leader back in Cambodia, as accused spy is pardoned. Cambodian authorities have decided to free Siwarak Chothipong, whom they accused last month of spying on the flight itinerary of visiting former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Meanwhile, Thaksin is back in Cambodia, a sign that the country will continue to back pro-Thaksin political forces in Thailand.

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Silence over sudden death of Jordan’s ex-spy chief in Vienna

Imperial Hotel, Vienna

Imperial Hotel

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
There is widespread silence in Jordan about the sudden death of the country’s former intelligence chief, at his luxury Vienna hotel room, on Wednesday. The country’s tightly controlled press barely mentioned the news of the death of Field Marshal Said Bashir Saad Kheir, 56, whose body was reportedly discovered in bed by a maid in Vienna’s Imperial Hotel. Austrian police representatives have ruled out foul play in Kheir’s death, which they attributed to heart failure. But there is conflicting information about the purpose of the former spy chief’s visit to the Austrian capital, which is considered the world’s largest espionage hub, with the highest density of foreign intelligence agents on Earth. Read more of this post