‘Lord of War’ weapons smuggler enjoys Russian protection

Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The case of notorious arms smuggler Viktor Bout is well known. Born in Dushanbe, Soviet Tajikistan, in 1967, Bout served in the GRU (Soviet military intelligence) until the collapse of the USSR, at which point he began supplying weapons to shady groups, ranging from Congolese rebels and Angolan paramilitaries to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In March of 2008, Bout, known as ‘Lord of War’, was finally arrested by the Royal Thai Police, after a tip by US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officers. The latter had managed to lure Bout to Thailand by pretending to be Colombian FARC arms procurers. Recently, Washington scored a second victory by convincing Thai authorities to extradite Bout to the United States on terrorism charges. Presumably, Bout will be tried as an arms smuggler acting on his own accord. But is this right? Read more of this post

Pakistanis question validity, timing, of Wikileaks files

Hamid Gul

Hamid Gul

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Senior Pakistani government and intelligence officials have reacted angrily to leaked reports, which suggest that Pakistani spy agencies are secretly working with the Taliban to oppose US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. The accusations have emerged as part of the largest document leak in US military history, which was made public on Sunday by anti-secrecy activist website Wikileaks. Among the nearly 92,000 intelligence and military files disclosed by Wikileaks are several reports suggesting that General Hamid Gul, who headed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate in the late 1980s, is among a number of high-profile Pakistanis who regularly help the Taliban organize strikes against US-led coalition troops and their supporters in Afghanistan. But on Monday General Gul, who is a well-known critic of the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, vehemently rejected the leaked reports, calling them “a pack of lies” and “utterly wrong”. Read more of this post

Private US spy network still operating in Pakistan

US Pentagon

US Pentagon

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Senior US Pentagon officials continue to rely almost daily on reports from a network of contracted spies operating deep inside Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to The New York Times. Last March, when the paper revealed the existence of the network, several senior US military sources expressed serious concerns about the operation, which some say borders on illegality, and is currently under investigation by the US government. Although The Times is apparently “withholding some information about the contractor network, including some of the names of [its] agents”, it appears that the network is staffed by former CIA and Special Forces operatives. The entire operation appears to be an attempt to evade some of the stringent oversight rules under which the CIA and the US Pentagon are required to operate. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #347

  • CIA drones now target non-listed targets in Pakistan. It used to be the case that the CIA unmanned drone attacks in Pakistan were directed at confirmed Taliban senior operatives. But an American official has said that the CIA does “not always have their names”. Instead, the Agency targets them based on their “actions over time” that make it “obvious that they are a threat”.
  • Democrat Senator presses Obama for more NSA powers. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is pressing the Obama Administration to give the National Security Agency more power to oversee privately owned portions of the Internet. Speaking on Thursday, Mikulski complained that “we don’t know who the hell is in charge” over the security of private networks.
  • Lebanese officer charged as Israel spy may get death. A Lebanese prosecutor has requested the death penalty for Gazwan Shahin, an army colonel charged with having provided Israel’s spy agency with pictures, information and coordinates of Lebanese civil and military posts during and after the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

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News you may have missed #343

  • Taliban leader H. Mehsud reportedly not dead. Last February US and Pakistani officials claimed a CIA airstrike had killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the largest faction of the Pakistani Taliban. But it now appears that Mehsud is alive and well.
  • Analysis: Operation MINCEMEAT and the ethics of spying. The New Yorker‘s Malcolm Gladwell on operation MINCEMEAT, a World War II British deception plan, which helped convince the German high command that the Allies planned to invade Greece and Sardinia in 1943, instead of Sicily.
  • US DoJ announces FISA court appointment. Judge Martin L.C. Feldman, of the Eastern District of Louisiana, has been appointed to a seven-year term on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court, which reviews (and invariably approves) government applications for counterintelligence surveillance and physical search under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

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News you may have missed #342

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News you may have missed #340

  • West Bank urged to drop Israeli cell phone companies. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is urging Palestinians to stop using the Israeli cellular companies Pelephone, Orange, Cellcom and Mirs. The official reasons are economic (Israeli companies don’t pay taxes to the PA), but the real reasons are probably related to communications security.
  • US police wiretaps up 26 percent in one year. The number of wiretaps authorized by US state and federal judges in criminal investigations jumped 26 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to a report released Friday by the Administrative Office of the US Courts.
  • Taliban group executes high-profile ex-ISI spy. Khalid Khawaja, one of two Pakistani former Inter-Services Intelligence directorate officers captured by a Taliban splinter group, named Asian Tigers, has been found dead. The other ex-ISI official, Sultan Amir Tarar, a.k.a. Colonel Imam, who was Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar’s former handler, remains in captivity.

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