News you may have missed #0246 (CIA bombing edition)

  • Analysis: Strike on CIA base tests US assessment of al-Qaeda. The militant group appears to have achieved a new level of sophistication and may not be as weakened as US officials had thought.
  • Photo of CIA suicide bomber published. Qatar-based Arabic news network Al Jazeera has published a photograph of Jordanian doctor Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 36, who last month killed at least 7 CIA agents in Khost, Afghanistan.
  • Al-Qaida CIA bomber was furious over Gaza war. Suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi was furious over Israel’s Gaza offensive, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on Thursday, citing the man’s sister.
  • Analysis: The view from Jordan on CIA’s deaths in Khost. For Jordan, far more embarrassing than its role in the Khost suicide bombing, is its connection with the CIA, which while relatively well-known before, has now been put out in the public sphere for all to see –especially the Arab street.
  • London Arabic newspaper visits home of CIA bomber. The Jordanian authorities have imposed a security cordon around al-Balawi’s family home, which is located in the residential al-Nuzha district, close to the Jabal al-Hussein Palestinian refugee camp in the Jordanian capital of Amman. But a London-based Arabic-language newspaper correspondent managed to visit the location and speak with the bomber’s family members and neighbors.

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News you may have missed #0245 (CIA edition)

  • CIA saw Jordanian double spy as valuable asset. Before detonating a suicide bomb in Afghanistan last week, Jordanian double spy (or was he?) Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi was considered by US spy agencies “the most promising informant in years about the whereabouts of Al Qaeda’s top leaders”.
  • CIA going through worst spell since 9/11. America’s most recognizable intelligence agency is currently going through its worst time since 9/11, what with Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and the loss of at least seven of its agents in Khost, Afghanistan.
  • US intel in Afghanistan is broken, irrelevant, says US insider. A new report (.pdf) by US Major General Michael Flynn, the top intelligence aide to International Security Assistance Force Commander General Stanley McChrystal, says the US intelligence community “is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy” in Afghanistan. The report recommends “[s]weeping changes to the way the intelligence community thinks about itself, from a focus on the enemy to a focus on the people of Afghanistan”.

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News you may have missed #0242

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News you may have missed #0241

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Breaking news: CIA officers were killed by Jordanian double spy

Forward Operating Base Chapman

Chapman FOB

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Ever since I posted “The Meaning of the Suicide Attack on the CIA” on this blog, I have been telling reporters who contacted me that the attack at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Chapman was probably carried out by a double agent. I dismissed claims on other websites that the bomber had been just a “potential recruit” who was “not required to go through full security checks [at Chapman FOB] in order to help gain [his] trust”. Instead, as I wrote on Saturday, I suggested that “the bomber was able to evade safety search standards [at the US base] by relying on a long-term informant-handler relationship with CIA personnel stationed at the outpost. This would lead to the strong possibility that the informant-turned-bomber had been groomed as a double agent from the very start by local Taliban operatives”. A news report has just appeared on NBC, which appears to confirm just that: namely that the suicide bomber had been “an al-Qaeda double agent” who was “arrested by Jordanian intelligence more than a year ago”, and turned over to the Americans by his Jordanian handlers, who believed he “had been successfully reformed”. Read more of this post

Analysis: The Meaning of the Suicide Attack on the CIA

Forward Operating Base Chapman

Chapman FOB

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS* | intelNews.org |
The recent deaths of seven and the serious injury of another six CIA personnel in Afghanistan’s Khost province has undoubtedly shocked an Agency not used to mass casualties. But what exactly is the significance of Wednesday’s suicide attack at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Chapman, and how will it affect the US military and intelligence presence at the Afghan-Pakistani border? Given that the CIA team at Chapman FOB could not have consisted of more than 15 to 20 agents, it would be logical to conclude that the attack virtually decimated the CIA presence in Khost. But the impact of this development on US operations in Afghanistan will be minimal, in contrast to operations inside Pakistan, which constituted the primary objective of the CIA team at Chapman FOB. Read article →

For second time in history, CIA suffers 8 deaths in a day [updated]

US embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, after the April 18, 1983 bombing

US Beirut mission

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Update: The CIA now says that seven, not eight, of the “Agency’s workforce” died in the Khost suicide attack. There is, however, some confusion as to the status of the bomber himself, with some Taliban sources in Afghanistan claiming he was already operating as a CIA informant.

Since it emerged last night that eight CIA agents were killed in a suicide bombing in Khost, Afghanistan, intelNews has received several emails asking whether the deaths marked a horrific record for the US spy agency. The unnamed agents were reportedly killed along with at least one Afghan civilian at the US-operated Forward Operating Base Chapman, close to the Pakistani border. The CIA is not known for forwarding details on its agents who perish while on missions around the world. But there is at least one other known instance when the Agency lost eight of its operatives in one day: Read more of this post

Comment: US-Pakistani Spy Relations Just Short of Open War

ISI HQ

ISI HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS* | intelNews.org |
Officially, the United States and Pakistan are allies in the so-called “war on terrorism”. But diplomats and intelligence agents on the ground tell a very different story. For several months now, Washington and Islamabad have engaged in a low-intensity intelligence war, with the Pakistanis accusing the Americans of failing to share actionable intelligence, and the Americans blaming Pakistani security services for maintaining clandestine links with Taliban groups. On at least one occasion, a senior advisor to the US-backed Afghan leadership has claimed that Pakistani intelligence services provide assistance to suicide bombers willing to strike targets in Kabul and other cities and towns in Afghanistan.

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News you may have missed #0213

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News you may have missed #0186

  • UN shares intel with Rwandan rebels, says paper. Rwandan daily The New Times has aired allegations that the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) has an intelligence-sharing relationship with Hutu FDLR rebels, which runs “even deeper than earlier thought”.
  • Pakistan militants target spy agency. Militants have stepped up their fight against the Pakistani government in western Pakistan, by ramming a truck bomb into the Peshawar regional office of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s main spy agency. This is the first large-scale specific targeting of intelligence agents in the region, outside of Afghanistan.
  • US bases in Colombia to be used for spying, says Chávez. Venezuela’s President says he does not think that the new US bases will be used for counternarcotics efforts, but rather for “electronic spying”.

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Analysis: Is US supporting suicide terrorists in Iran?

Jundullah men

Jundullah men

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Jundullah, a militant anti-regime Sunni group in Iran, claimed responsibility last week for an October 18 suicide attack that killed 42 people, including five senior members of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards corps. Tehran blamed the attack, which is part of a wider low-intensity guerilla war in the country’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province, on the work of covert American, British and Pakistani operatives. Should the Iranian allegations be taken seriously? IntelNews has written before about Washington’s complex relationship with Jundullah and the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), two of several armed groups officially deemed terrorist by the US State Department. In 2007, ABC News went so far as to claim that Jundullah “has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005″.   Read more of this post

Senior Afghan official says Pakistan aided Kabul suicide bombing

ISI HQ

ISI HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A senior advisor to the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai has accused Pakistani intelligence services of aiding suicide bombers strike targets in Afghan capital Kabul and other areas in Afghanistan. Speaking last week to Reuters news agency, Davood Moradian, senior policy aide in the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, alleged that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency systematically helps “anti-Western militants” in Afghanistan mount attacks against civilian and military targets alike. Moradian hinted that the ISI assistance to the militants is sanctioned by senior officials in the Pakistani government. The latter view it as a means to “arouse Western concern for stability” in Pakistan, which may in turn translate into increasing Western financial aid poring to the country, said Moradian. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0123

  • Get ready for body cavity airport searches! Security officials are concerned over a tactic newly employed by al Qaeda, whereby suicide bombers store explosives inside their bodies to avoid detection.
  • Did the US do a deal with Russia on Iran? Two weeks ago, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hinted that Russia could back tougher sanctions against Iran’s nuclear energy program. Does this signify a deal with Washington, namely US scrapping its missile shield program if Moscow would back efforts to impose tougher sanctions against Iran?
  • Lebanese mayor accused of spying for Israel. Lebanese authorities say Ziad Homsi, mayor of the city of Saadnayel, was recruited by Israeli intelligence in Beijing, China. Lebanon’s immense counterintelligence operation is widening by the hour.

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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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Diplomat sees Pakistani spies behind Afghan intel chief’s killing

Bhadrakumar

Bhadrakumar

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
An Indian diplomat has authored an editorial suggesting that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) may be behind the recent assassination of an Afghan senior intelligence official. Abdullah Laghmani, who headed Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security (NDS), appears to have been specifically targeted earlier this week in a suicide attack that killed 23 people in the town of Mehtarlam. The Taliban have formally assumed responsibility for the attack. But M.K. Bhadrakumar, a longtime Indian diplomat who has served as India’s ambassador to Afghanistan, suggests that Laghmani may have been targeted by the ISI. The diplomat says that the ISI, whose deep links with the Afghan Taliban have long been established, has been “stalking” Laghmani ever since the late 1990s, when he was active in Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. Read more of this post

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