News you may have missed #599

Erwin Rommel

Erwin Rommel

►►SAS planned to kill Nazi Field Marshal Rommel. The veil of secrecy surrounding Britain’s SAS special forces unit has been partially lifted to allow the publication of a new book detailing daring attacks behind Nazi lines in the Second World War. The book features an order for an ambitious but unsuccessful mission to kill or kidnap Nazi Field Marshal Erwin Rommel just after D-Day in 1944.
►►CIA says global-warming intelligence is ‘classified’. Two years ago, the US Central Intelligence Agency announced it was creating a center to analyze the geopolitical ramifications of “phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts and heightened competition for natural resources”. But whatever work the Center on Climate Change and National Security has done remains secret.
►►Japan sends new spy satellite into orbit. Japan at present has a total of three information-gathering satellites in orbit. All three are optical, which means they are able to capture images in broad daylight and in clear weather. The new spy satellite is said to replace one which is almost at the end of its useful life. The country is also planning to launch in two years time, radar satellites which can capture objects at night and in cloudy weather.

Western spies, security contractors, won Libyan war for rebels

Libya

Libya

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
As I write these lines, celebratory gunfire is being heard all across Tripoli and the rebel National Transitional Council is appointing civilians to replace the crumbling administration of longtime Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. But a handful of news outlets discreetly remind us that the rebels’ claim to victory rests on vital covert assistance provided by several Western intelligence services. British daily The Independent notes that the victorious rebels were assisted on all levels by “an army of [British] diplomats, spooks, military advisers and former members of the special forces”, all of whom allowed “London to influence events in Libya beyond the activities of warplanes and naval vessels”. Early indications of Britain’s substantial covert involvement in the Libyan civil war emerged in March, when a secret operation involving a team of 20 Special Air Service (SAS) personnel was disrupted by a group of Libyan rebels, who thought the foreigners were employed by the Libyan government. Eight captured SAS members were soon released by the red-faced rebels, but not before the botched operation had made headlines all over the world. That experience prompted British intelligence planners to rethink their methodology. Eventually, notes The Independent, the British government decided to prompt the rebel National Transitional Council to use British funds to hire teams of former special forces operatives working for private security firms. This, according to the paper, accounts for the “small groups of […] Caucasian males, many with British accents [and] equipped with sunglasses, 4×4 vehicles and locally acquired weaponry, who [were] seen regularly by reporters in the vanguard of the rebels’ haphazard journey […] towards Tripoli”. Read more of this post

Arrest of British spy team in Libya reveals covert involvement

Benghazi, Libya

Benghazi, Libya

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
All eight members of the British military and intelligence team arrested in Libya on Friday have now been released and are en route to Malta. But what exactly is behind this news story, and what does it reveal about covert Western involvement in Libya? Those detained were part of group of around 20 Britons who landed by helicopter before sunrise on Friday, several miles from Benina International Airport, which is right outside Libya’s second-largest city Benghazi. Witnesses reported that the helicopter was met by another group on the ground. Soon after landing, the mysterious passengers split after being surrounded by heavily armed Libyan rebels; the latter managed to capture eight of them, which included six members of Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS, although some sources suggest they were from the Special Boat Service, or SBS), one British Army officer, and an operative of MI6, Britain’s foremost external intelligence agency. The Britons, all of whom were dressed in black coveralls, offered no resistance, telling their captors that they were unarmed. When searched, however, they were found to be carrying “arms, ammunition, explosives, maps and passports from at least four different nationalities”. Read more of this post

UK special forces chief trying to prevent book publication

SAS seal

SAS seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The director of Britain’s Special Forces is actively trying to stop the publication of a new book that sheds unprecedented light on the elite combat group’s operations in Iraq. The official, whose name cannot be revealed for security reasons, has said that the book, authored by BBC journalist Mark Urban, will negatively impact the operational effectiveness of the Special Air Service (SAS) and other UK Special Forces units. The official’s objections have come to overshadow a compromise struck earlier this month between Mr. Urban’s publishers and the UK Ministry of Defence. Following four months of negotiations, the Ministry reportedly decided that the book “would not compromise the operational effectiveness of the SAS”. Read more of this post

Spanish spies remain active in UK territory of Gibraltar

Gibraltar

Gibraltar

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The British Crown has ruled Gibraltar since the early 1700s, but Spain has never ceased to claim national rights over the territory. Today, la Cuestión de Gibraltar (the Gibraltar question) is as critical an issue in Spanish-British relations as it has been for over 300 years. A recent article in Gibraltar’s English-language Panorama news site reminds us that, even though the two countries are NATO and European Union allies, Spanish intelligence agents remain active in the territory. It is true that the Rock is frequented by agents of Spain’s Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI), who are mostly concerned with assessing economic and political life in the British possession. The article lacks sources, but its views are probably not far from the truth, considering Gibraltar’s immense geostrategic significance. Read more of this post