News you may have missed #778 (analysis edition)

Lieutenant-General Zahir ul-IslamBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Some rules restrain Mossad’s work in Iran. It is widely believed that at least four assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists in Tehran were carried out in recent years by Mossad operatives. The perpetrators were part of an elite unit within Israeli intelligence, called Kidon, founded in 1972 to avenge the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, by any means necessary. But veteran Israeli intelligence correspondents Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman argue that the Kidon is not technically a ‘lawless’ organization; it has to comply with a set of “unwritten regulations” adopted by Israel’s secret agencies fifty years ago.
►►Are US and Pakistani spy agencies starting to get along? The relationship between the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency has been at the core of Washington and Islamabad’s alliance for over a decade now. But over the past two years, as suspicions have grown, the two sides had become near adversaries. After months of relations languishing at an all-time low, Pakistan and the US may now be opening up a fresh phase of engagement. Following US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent apology for the loss of 24 Pakistani soldiers at a border checkpoint last November, NATO supplies are rumbling through again. Washington has also released funds for Pakistani military operations it had previously withheld. And, perhaps most crucially, the two fractious allies’ top spies are said to be talking again. New ISI Director Zahir ul-Islam (pictured) visited Washington for talks earlier this month.
►►Why the US isn’t arming Syria’s opposition –yet. Up until this point, the only thing the US has owned up to is providing humanitarian assistance and communications equipment to Syrian opposition groups. A report earlier this month revealed that US President Barack Obama signed a secret “finding” in July, which allows the CIA to take action in Syria, but does not include lethal support. In other words, the US won’t be sending in Seal Team Six to take down Assad any time soon, but it is training certain groups to handle and gather intelligence. Why is that?

News you may have missed #773

Tamir PardoBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Conflicting reports on CIA-ISI meeting. Lieutenant General Zahir ul-Islam, who heads Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the ISI, held talks in Washington with his CIA counterpart General David Petraeus, between August 1 and 3. It was the first time in a year that the chief of the ISI made the trip to the US, signaling a possible thaw in relations. Depending on the source, the meeting was either “substantive, professional and productive”, or “made no big strides on the main issues”.
►►Senior Mossad official suspected of financial misconduct. A senior Mossad official is suspected of financial misconduct and has been forced to take a leave of absence until Israeli police complete an investigation into his alleged deeds, Israeli media reported on Sunday. The official, a department head in Israel’s spy organization, has reportedly denied any wrongdoing, but sources said he would likely not be reinstated in light of investigation findings and is effectively being forced to retire. The nature of the official’s alleged misconduct has not been reported, but it is said that the official in question has close ties to Mossad Director Tamir Pardo, who appointed him to his position last year.
►►Ex-NSA official disputes DefCon claims by NSA chief. William Binney, a former technical director at the NSA, has accused NSA director General Keith Alexander of deceiving the public during a speech he gave at the DefCon hacker conference last week. In his speech, Alexander asserted that the NSA does not collect files on Americans. But Binney accused Alexander of playing a “word game” and said the NSA was indeed collecting and indexing e-mails, Twitter writings, Internet searches and other data belonging to Americans. “The reason I left the NSA was because they started spying on everybody in the country. That’s the reason I left”, said Binney, who resigned from the agency in late 2001.

News you may have missed #742

'Spy rock' used in AfghanistanBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Obama warns Congress of overspending on intelligence. The administration of US President Barack Obama is warning that it has “serious concerns” about a 2013 intelligence authorization bill that the House of Representatives passed on Thursday, because it authorizes spending on intelligence activities that go well beyond President Obama’s request. Despite this concern, the administration said that it “does not oppose” the Intelligence Authorization Act, HR 5743, instead supporting language that would repeal some reporting obligations that the government now has to Congress.
►►US forces use fake rocks to spy on Afghans. Palm-sized sensors, disguised as rocks, developed for the American military, will remain littered across the Afghan countryside –detecting anyone who moves nearby and reporting their locations back to a remote headquarters. Some of these surveillance tools could be buried in the ground, all-but-unnoticeable by passersby. These rocks contain wafer-sized, solar-rechargeable batteries that could enable the sensors’ operation for perhaps as long as two decades. Hmm…where have we seen this before?
►►Pakistan spy chief postpones US trip. Pakistan’s spymaster, Lieutenant-General Zahir ul-Islam, has postponed a trip to the United States in the latest sign of the dire state of relations between two supposed allies in the war against Islamist extremists. America has stepped up drone strikes on Pakistani territory in the week since the two countries failed to reach an agreement on NATO supply convoys at a summit in Chicago. Last week, officials in Washington also condemned Pakistan’s decision to jail a doctor who helped the CIA hunt Osama bin Laden.

News you may have missed #695

Nicolas Sarkozy and Muammar GaddafiBy IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
►►Spies meet over Syrian crisis. CIA chief David Petraeus met Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday for closed-door talks focusing on the crisis across the border in Syria. Meanwhile, General Murad Muwafi, who heads Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate, left Cairo on Tuesday for a visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Also, US General Ronald Burgess, Defense Intelligence Agency Director, has arrived in Egypt and is expected to meet with several Egyptian officials to discuss the situation in Syria.
►►Gaddafi contributed €50m to Sarkozy election fund. Damaging new claims have emerged about the funding of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign and his links with former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The French investigative website Mediapart claims to have seen a confidential note suggesting Gaddafi contributed up to €50 million to Sarkozy’s election fund five years ago.
►►Analysis: US relations on the agenda for Pakistan’s new spy chief. Yusuf Raza Gilani has appointed Lieutenant General Zahir ul-Islam as the new chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, the main spy arm of the Pakistani military, ending weeks of speculation he would extend the term of Lieutenant Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, due to retire on March 18. The new spymaster faces a tough task fixing ever-worsening ties with the United States, but analysts say he is unlikely to reform an institution accused of helping militants in Afghanistan.

News you may have missed #692

Lieutenant-General Zahir ul-IslamBy IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
►►Mole theory over MI6 codebreaker’s death. It is one of Britain’s most baffling spy mysteries. In 2010, the body of expert code breaker Gareth Williams was found locked in a large sports bag in the bathtub of his London flat. There were no obvious signs of how he died or who was responsible —with many claiming a “wall of silence” surrounding his death points to a cover-up at the very heart of the British establishment. And now it has been revealed Gareth may have been betrayed by a British double agent.
►►Pakistan picks new director for spy agency. The prime minister of Pakistan appointed a new general to run the country’s most powerful intelligence agency on Friday, signaling an important change in the military leadership at a pivotal moment in relations with the United States. Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam will take over as the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, on March 18, replacing Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who has held the post since 2008.
►►Russian diplomat alleges 15,000 foreign fighters in Syria. Addressing a one-day humanitarian forum on Syria at the United Nations in Geneva, Russia’s deputy ambassador Mikhail Lebedev said rebels had recently committed large-scale attacks against Syrian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. Asked by Reuters how many foreign fighters were believed to be in Syria, he said: “how many got in through illegal routes? The border there is not demarcated, not delimited, so nobody knows. But at least 15,000”.