Hundreds of European mercenaries ‘fighting for Gaddafi’

Libya

Libya

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Hundreds of European mercenaries, including large numbers of European Union citizens, have voluntarily enrolled in the armed forces of the Libyan government, and are fighting under the command of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi. According to criminologist Michel Koutouzis, the Greek CEO of a French-registered consulting firm with connections to Libya, up to 500 European soldiers-of-fortune have been hired by the Libyan government to provide “special services”, particularly in heavy weaponry and attack helicopters. Koutouzis says that most of the European mercenaries, who sell their services for thousands of dollars a day, come from Eastern Europe, especially Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Serbia, but there are also French, British and Greek nationals currently in Libya. He also claims that Gaddafi is supported by serving military personnel from Russia, Syria and Algeria. It is believed that the Gaddafi camp is also employing thousands of non-specialist mercenaries from various African nations, including Somalia, Mali, Niger, Chad, and the Central African Republic. Unconfirmed reports have surfaced in the American press that the Gaddafi forces are employing female snipers from Colombia. Read more of this post

Retired US colonel charged with smuggling weapons to Somalia

Somalia

Somalia

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A retired US Air Force colonel, who was charged with weapons smuggling during the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, has been indicted again, this time for trying to smuggle automatic weapons into Somalia. US federal authorities accuse Joseph O’Toole, now 79, of conspiring with Israeli citizen Chanoch Miller, formerly an aeronautics engineer with Israeli defense firm Radom Aviation, to transport nearly 2,000  AK-47s from Bosnia to Banderal, Somalia. The smuggling operation, which employed forged end-user certificates issued in Chad, violated US weapons export control regulations, which are in compliance with a United Nations weapons embargo to war-ravaged Somalia. This is the second time O’Toole has been indicted with conspiring to smuggle weapons. In 1989, he was charged of working with fellow-American Richard St. Francis and Israeli alleged ex-Mossad operative Ari Ben-Menashe, to sell several US C-130 cargo airplanes to the Iranian government. Read more of this post

Recording of candid speech by Blackwater CEO leaked

Erik Prince

Erik Prince

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A recording of a relatively recent candid speech given by Erik Prince, the media-shy owner of Xe Services (formerly known as Blackwater), has been obtained by The Nation magazine. The extensive recording was made on January 14, during a private talk given by Prince at the University of Michigan before a sympathetic invitation-only audience consisting of military veterans, ROTC commanders and cadets, as well as business entrepreneurs. In his talk, Prince, who last December admitted having worked as a CIA asset, advocated for the employment of private contractors by the US Pentagon to combat insurgents and “Iranian influence” in countries such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia. Writing for The Nation, Jeremy Scahill focuses on Princes views, as he conveyed them in his talk. Read more of this post

Comment: Saudi Spies Take Over Yemen Border War

Saudi forces in Yemen

Saudis in Yemen

By IAN ALLEN* | intelNews.org |
Perceptive Middle East observers have been following the under-reported but escalating conflict along the Yemeni-Saudi border, in which Saudi and Yemeni government forces have joined forces in combating al-Qaeda-linked Yemeni rebels. It now appears that Saudi Arabia’s preeminent intelligence agency, the General Intelligence Presidency (GIP) has assumed direct command of the conflict. What exactly is going on?

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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 #0185

  • Article claims US employed cyberwar in 2007. A cover story in the Washington-based National Journal claims former US President George W. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to “launch a sophisticated attack […] on the cellular phones and computers that insurgents in Iraq were using to plan roadside bombings”. IntelNews regulars will remember that we had suspected as much.
  • Somali suicide bomb recruiter had US residency. Somali Mohamud Said Omar, who was arrested a week ago in Holland on suspicion of recruiting youth in Minneapolis for suicide missions in Somalia, has a US green card, Dutch media reported Friday.
  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial a huge challenge for US judiciary. The alleged 9/11 mastermind’s case poses the question of how to deal with what is likely to be an extremely large body of classified evidence that the prosecution will want to present.

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News you may have missed #0121

  • DHS intelligence official speaks on cross-department collaboration. Since its establishment, the US Department of Homeland Security has been involved in almost every major turf battle within the US security and intelligence community. Bart Johnson, the department’s Acting Undersecretary of Intelligence and Analysis, speaks about collaborating with non-DHS actors.
  • Somali group executes two for spying for CIA. Somalia’s al-Shabaab on Monday publicly executed two people accused of spying for the US Central Intelligence Agency and the country’s embattled government. Before the US-assisted Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, al-Shabaab (The Party of Youth) used to be the youth organization of the Somali Islamic Courts Union (ICU). Al-Shabaab shares the ICU’s mission of turning Somalia into an Islamic khalifat.
  • US intelligence veterans group backs CIA torture probe. The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have authored a memorandum addressed to US President Barack Obama, in which they “voice strong support for Attorney General Eric Holder’s authorization of a wider investigation into CIA interrogation”.

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News you may have missed #0115

  • China says US intelligence report shows Cold War prejudice. The 2009 US National Intelligence Strategy (.pdf) report singles out Iran, North Korea, China and Russia as nations with the ability to challenge US interests. But government-owned China Daily newspaper says the report is “stuffed with outdated pride and prejudice” and “reflects typical Cold War and power politics mentality”.
  • Somali suicide bomber lived in the US. After Shirwa Ahmed, a US citizen of Somali descent who last October became history’s first known US-born suicide bomber, another Somali-American, who lived in Seattle, has been identified as one of the participants of a suicide bombing that killed 21 peacekeepers in Mogadishu last week. US officials have been warning for almost a year about the strange phenomenon of the “disappearing Somali youths” from their US homes.
  • UK spies used Monopoly sets to help WWII prisoners escape. British secret services embedded escape tools and maps in Monopoly game sets distributed by humanitarian groups in care packages to imprisoned British soldiers during World War II. The article contains some interesting photographs.

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News you may have missed #0109

  • Somali pirates have spies in London shipbroking. A report compiled by European military intelligence agencies says that Somali pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden and more recently the Indian Ocean have well-placed informers in London, a world center for shipbroking and maritime insurance. They also regularly use satellite phones and GPS tracking systems to zero in on their targets.
  • Canada denies entry visa to Russian official due to KGB ties. Mikhail Margelov, who heads the foreign affairs committee of the Russian parliament, was invited to participate in the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas (FIPA) in Ottawa. But upon applying for an entry visa he was warned it could be denied because of his KGB ties. Observers say this episode may be indicative of a shift in Russo-Canadian relations.

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Comment: Daring US Raid in Somalia is Risky Policy

Saleh Nabhan

Saleh Nabhan

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The political aftereffect of a recent raid by US Special Forces in southern Somalia may be more significant than its outcome. The operation, which took place in the early hours of Monday, killed a number of al-Qaeda-linked militants and captured at least two, according to local witnesses. Unnamed US officials said that among the dead is Saleh Ali Nabhan, a 30-year-old Kenyan al-Qaeda operative who is said to have participated in the 2002 attack on an Israeli-owned resort in his homeland, among other acts. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0089

  • German intelligence negotiating on Israel’s behalf. Israel has asked Gemany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, to mediate in negotiations for the release Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held hostage in Gaza since June 2006. Intelligence sources say a prisoner exchange deal may be imminent.
  • France to send more spies to Somalia. Days after the dramatic escape of a French spy from his militant captors in Somalia, the French government has announced its intention to station more operatives in the country.
  • Senior Russian military officer jailed for spying for Georgia. Authorities said Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Khachidze, who is an ethnic Georgian, passed Russian military secrets over the Internet to Georgian secret services in June and July 2008. Khachidze was allegedly recruited by Georgian intelligence in late 2007, while stationed on Georgian territory.

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News you may have missed #0083

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French spy escapes Somali captors, allegedly killing three

Hotel Sahafi

Hotel Sahafi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
One of two French intelligence agents arrested by a Somali militia in July has escaped, after allegedly killing three of his captors. Somali military officer Farhan Asanyo told British newspaper The Daily Mail that the Frenchman approached government soldiers in Mogadishu early yesterday morning, identified himself and said he had escaped. He was then taken to the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu, where he now remains. The French Foreign Ministry has disputed Asanyo’s account, saying that the French intelligence agent escaped without resorting to violence and without a ransom having been paid by Paris. Read more of this post

French intelligence agents posing as journalists abducted in Somalia

Hotel Sahafi

Hotel Sahafi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Foreign correspondents in Somalia have joined Reporters Without Borders (RWB) in condemning the alleged journalistic cover of two French intelligence agents, who were kidnapped on Tuesday in Somali capital Mogadishu. RWB director, Jean-Francois Julliard, said that if the allegations that the two French intelligence agents had pretended to be journalists are confirmed, it would be “shocking, because these are official agents on a mission for the French government, who have used the title of journalist as a cover”. In a telling move, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has refused to identify the two abductees, and has rejected calls to reveal the precise branch of the French government that sent them to Somalia. But the Ministry did admit today that the two Frenchmen were in the African country on “an official mission” to advise President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s crumbling Western-backed government in “security matters”. Speaking anonymously to the Agence France Presse news agency, a senior Somali government official revealed that the two abductees arrived in Mogadishu nine days ago in order to train “their counterparts in Somali intelligence agencies”. Read more of this post

US officials step up warnings about missing Somali-Americans

Shirwa Ahmed

Shirwa Ahmed

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
IntelNews has previously reported on the case of Shirwa Ahmed, a US citizen of Somali descent who last October became history’s first known US-born suicide bomber. On October 29, 2008, Ahmed was one of five bombers who carried out near-simultaneous suicide bombings in the Somali city of Hargeisa, targeting the Presidential palace, the consulate of Ethiopia and a UN complex. The bombings have been attributed to al-Shabaab (the Party of Youth), a militant youth faction of Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union (ICU). Members of the ICU went underground in late 2006, after Ethiopia launched a US-aided invasion of Somalia with the aim of curtailing the ICU’s grassroots support and preventing the solidification of the group’s rule in Somalia. Al-Shabaab represents the most militant of the ICU-led underground, and is said to be one of several groups in Somalia with significant al-Qaeda links. Read more of this post