South African intel officials faked threats to increase spy budget

ANC centenary celebrationsBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The tendency of some spy agencies to overstate security threats in order to secure governmental funds is hardly novel. But officials in the South African Secret Service appear to have gone a step further: they allegedly paid some of their informants to make bogus threats against the government, in order to prompt an increase in counterterrorist funding. According to Pretoria News, which is owned by The Independent, South Africa’s largest newspaper consortium, the bogus threats were aimed at creating “a false impression of imminent, unprecedented attacks on black people and African National Congress (ANC) members”. The ultimate goal of the perpetrators, says the paper, was to benefit personally from an increase in counterterrorist funding, which is said to run at around R600 million (US$72 million) per year. The plan was carefully designed to coincide with the run-up to the ANC’s centennial celebrations, which took place in January of this year. In one case, an informant was paid by Secret Service officials to record a video message threatening an uprising by whites against the country’s black-majority government, unless the latter put an end to the occupation of white-owned farmland by landless peasants. One video, which made “chilling threats” against black Africans and members of the ANC, was made publicly available on YouTube, causing widespread concern and prompting the government to beef up security measures around ANC facilities in several areas of the country. The threats also led to an extensive government investigation. Read more of this post

Advertisements

South African spy chief had secret US talks, embassy cable reveals

Moe Shaik

Moe Shaik

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
South Africa’s spy chief regularly gave the American embassy in Pretoria detailed information on internal African National Congress (ANC) politics, according to a diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks. The cable, entitled “Zuma Advisor Threatens to Expose Political Skeletons”, was authored on September 10 2008 by the embassy and communicated to several recipients, including the State Department, CIA, and the National Security Council. It reveals that Moe Shaik, who heads the South African Secret Service (SASS), the country’s external intelligence agency, met regularly with an unnamed political officer of the US embassy and “always share[d] insights into the motivations and strategies of the Zuma camp”. The reference is to Jacob Zuma, President of the governing ANC, who assumed the organization’s leadership in May of 2009, after a bitter internal party struggle. Several months prior to Zuma’s election as ANC’s President, the organization’s rival faction, which was loyal to Thabo Mbeki, attempted to challenge Zuma’s eligibility by leveling corruption charges against him. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0244

  • Former S. African spy chief dies. Mike Louw former head of South Africa’s apartheid-era National Intelligence Service (NIS) and later the South African Secret Service (SASS), has died. As deputy director general at NIS, Louw helped facilitate some of the very first meetings between the government of F.W. De Klerk and Nelson Mandela, the then imprisoned leader of the African National Congress.
  • Kiwi spies get augmented cyber-surveillance powers. Reports from New Zealand indicate that new “cyber-monitoring measures have been quietly introduced”, giving the country’s law enforcement and intelligence services increased online surveillance powers. Veteran intelligence observer Nicky Hager describes the changes as “the largest expansion of police and [intelligence] surveillance capabilities [in New Zealand] for decades”.

Bookmark and Share

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.

Bookmark and Share

Thatcher’s son was informant for South African spy service

Sir Mark Thathcer

Sir Mark Thathcer

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The son of Britain’s former Prime Minister, Margaret (now Baroness) Thatcher, has admitted turning informer to a South African intelligence agency, in connection to a coup plot in central-west Africa which he was accused of having helped finance. In 2004, Sir Mark Thatcher was arrested by members of an elite anticorruption squad in South Africa, for his alleged role in a failed coup against Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the longtime dictator of energy-rich Equatorial Guinea. Several South African and European mercenaries, including Simon Mann, a British former Special Forces officer, and Nick du Toit, a South African arms dealer, were arrested in Zimbabwe during the planning stages of the failed coup. It soon became understood that the plotters wanted to replace Obiang with exiled opposition leader Severo Moto Nsa, probably in return for access to lucrative oil contracts. Read more of this post