Saturday, 31 January, 2009

Belgian spy boss wary of Russian, Chinese reporters

31 January 2009
BRUSSELS -- Belgian State Security Service Director Alain Winants suspects there are "many spies" among journalists working in Brussels.

Media in Slovenia are quoting Belgian daily De Morgen, which cited Winants as saying that it is "horrible how many Chinese and Russian reporters are running around Brussels", and adding that "we are justified to wonder whether they have journalistic educating at all".

He made the statements in front of the Belgian Senate's judiciary commission, appraising that there are "a few dozen" spies among journalists in Brussels.

1,200 foreign reporters are accredited to work in the city that is home to the EU, NATO and other international organizations.

The comments came during an ongoing debate in Belgium over proposed changes to existing legislation, that would, if adopted, give this country's intelligence officers additional powers.

Those powers would allow Belgian spies to assume false identities and impersonate journalists as they conduct their investigations. Belgium's League for Human Rights has been critical of the proposal. (B92 News World World)

Belgian spy boss wary of Russian, Chinese reporters

31 January 2009
BRUSSELS -- Belgian State Security Service Director Alain Winants suspects there are "many spies" among journalists working in Brussels.

Media in Slovenia are quoting Belgian daily De Morgen, which cited Winants as saying that it is "horrible how many Chinese and Russian reporters are running around Brussels", and adding that "we are justified to wonder whether they have journalistic educating at all".

He made the statements in front of the Belgian Senate's judiciary commission, appraising that there are "a few dozen" spies among journalists in Brussels.

1,200 foreign reporters are accredited to work in the city that is home to the EU, NATO and other international organizations.

The comments came during an ongoing debate in Belgium over proposed changes to existing legislation, that would, if adopted, give this country's intelligence officers additional powers.

Those powers would allow Belgian spies to assume false identities and impersonate journalists as they conduct their investigations. Belgium's League for Human Rights has been critical of the proposal. (B92 News World World)

Hearing in Pak spy case on Feb 12

31 Jan 2009
BAHRAICH: Pak spy Mohammad Masroor was produced in the court of additional sessions judge. Masroor requested the court to provide him legal aid
so that he could plead his case. The court appointed a lawyer to take up the case. February 12 has been fixed as the next date of hearing.

It may be remembered that the team of Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) from Lucknow had arrested Masroor in Rupaidiha town located on UP-Nepal border. He had allegedly come to India for spying. The police had submitted the charge-sheet in the court. The upper court transferred the case to the sessions judge for trial. Masroor was brought from Unnao jail to Bahraich for hearing.

Friday, 30 January, 2009

Spy could shed light on fate of abducted Japanese

January 30, 2009
The Japanese government has asked the Blue House to facilitate a meeting between a former North Korean spy and the family of an abducted Japanese national who taught the spy Japanese.

Kim Hyun-hee, who was sentenced to death for her role in the 1987 bombing of Korean Air flight 858, which killed all 115 passengers on board, mostly South Koreans, has expressed a wish to meet the family of Yaeko Taguchi, a Japanese woman allegedly kidnapped by the North in 1978.

Kim claims that Taguchi is still alive, but Pyongyang said the kidnapped woman died in a car accident in 1986.

Officials in Seoul said yesterday that Akitaka Saiki, the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau director general, asked for assistance from his South Korean counterpart Cho Tai-young to help arrange the much-anticipated meeting.

Akitaka is in South Korea for a conference with Japanese diplomats here.

Kim, whose death sentence was commuted in 1990, expressed a desire to meet Taguchi’s family during a phone interview with Japan’s NHK broadcast station earlier this month.

Her announcement whipped up a frenzy of speculation in Japan, with expectations riding high that the former spy will shed new information on the fate of Taguchi, who disappeared in 1978 when she was 22.

Japanese intelligence said she was kidnapped by North Korean spies.

“I will make efforts [to help arrange a meeting] if that’s what Kim wants,” Japan’s Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone told reporters on Jan. 20, adding he would seek the cooperation of the South Korean government to further figure out Kim’s intention.

The 47-year-old Kim was trained in espionage from childhood. She and a male counterpart planted explosives on Korean Air flight 858 from Abu Dhabi to Seoul on Nov. 28 in 1987.

The two spies, disguised as Japanese tourists, tried to kill themselves before they were caught, but Kim survived.

Kim married a former official of the South Korean intelligence agency in 1997. Since then, Kim has kept a low profile, joining anti-communism campaigns.

In a Jan. 15 interview with NHK, Kim said she is “certain” that Taguchi is alive in the North and wants to offer words of hope to Taguchi’s family.

More than 20 Japanese citizens are believed to have been abducted by the North in the 1970s and 80s.

After decades of denial, Pyongyang finally admitted in 2002 that it had abducted several Japanese to get them to teach their language to North Korean spies.

By Jung Ha-won Staff Reporter/Yeh Young-june JoongAng Ilbo

Swiss police spy marijuana field with Google Earth

January 30, 2009
ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) — Swiss police said Thursday they stumbled across a large marijuana plantation while using Google Earth, the search engine company's satellite mapping software.

Police said the find was part of a bigger investigation that led to the arrest of 16 people and seizure of 1.2 tons (1.1 metric tons) of marijuana as well as cash and valuables worth 900,000 Swiss francs ($780,000).

Officers discovered the hemp field in the northeastern canton (state) of Thurgau last year while investigating an alleged drug ring, said the head of Zurich police's specialist narcotics unit Norbert Klossner.

The plantation, measuring almost two acres (7,500 square meters), was hidden inside a field of corn. But officers using Google Earth to locate the address of two farmers suspected of involvement in the drug operation quickly spotted the illegal crop.

"It was an interesting chance discovery," said Klossner.

Prosecutor Gabi Alkalay told reporters in Zurich that she plans to complete her criminal investigation in February, after which she will formally charge the 16 suspects and ask for prison sentences for all of them.

The gang is alleged to have sold up to 7 tons (7.7 US tons) of hashish and marijuana between 2004 and 2008, with an annual turnover of 3-10 million francs a year, officials said.

Thursday, 29 January, 2009

US men charged in Russia spy case

A jailed ex-CIA agent and his son have been charged in the US with receiving money from and channeling information to his former Russian handlers.

Harold Nicholson, 58, is serving a 23-year term in Oregon for previous spying activities after pleading guilty in 1997 to selling secrets to Russia.

He is now accused of using his son Nathaniel to pass on new data between 2006 and 2008 in return for money.

Nathaniel was arrested on Thursday and the pair are to appear in court later.

Both father and son are charged with conspiracy, money laundering and conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government.

Justice officials allege Nathaniel Nicholson, 24, visited his father in prison several times in order to obtain information to pass on to the Russians.

He then travelled to places including San Francisco, Mexico City, Lima and Cyprus to meet Russian representatives and receive payments of $35,593 (£24,900), the officials say.

They believe the Russians thought his father still had useful information to divulge about how he had been caught and what the investigators had learnt about Russian spying practices.

Nathaniel is alleged then to have passed on the money to other family members, at the direction of his father.

Pakistan says 'three Indian spies' arrested

29 Jan 2009 (AFP)
LAHORE: Pakistani police said on Thursday three Pakistani men had been arrested on suspicion of spying for India since 2005 and being involved in two bombings in 2006.

The police chief in Lahore, Pervaiz Rathor, said the three Pakistanis were recruited, trained and paid huge sums by India's foreign intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

Pakistani police said the alleged spies were arrested a few days ago and were residents of a village close to the border. "They are Pakistani nationals, they were spying for Indian intelligence," Rathor said.

He named the suspects as Mohammed Fayyaz, Mohammed Ikram -- both Muslims -- and Shahzad Bhatti -- a Christian.

"They were working for RAW and were spying for them since 2005. They were also involved in a bomb blast in Lahore in 2006, in which 16 people were injured and two killed," Rathor said.

They were operating in Pakistan's central Punjab province and are wanted for a second, minor blast in a southern district in 2006, he added.

"They were paid by RAW to carry out acts of violence in Pakistan and also supply information about important personalities in Pakistan. They also took pictures and made videos of government installations," Rathor said.

He accused the suspects of carrying out reconnaissance missions at offices of terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat ud-Dawa, a group widely seen as the political wing of the banned LeT.

Rathor said the suspects were petty cross-border smugglers when they were recruited by RAW and trained by Indian intelligence in explosives handling.

One trip into India, carrying pictures and intelligence, would earn them 700,000 rupees (9,000 dollars) from their handlers, he charged.

Tensions have soared between the two countries since terrorists killed 180 people in India's financial capital Mumbai in late November.

India has blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba for training, equipping and financing the terrorists.

Pakistan government investigators will submit a preliminary report on the suspects in the Mumbai attacks by the end of January. Pakistan has said India provided some information on January 5 but no evidence and has ruled out handing any suspects to India.

The Indian goverment has said that given the level of sophistication of the attacks, the group must have had support from some "official agencies" in Pakistan -- a charge Islamabad has rejected.

Sudanese spy slapped with 17 year jail term

28 January (afrol News) - A Sudanese criminal court has sentenced a man to 17 years in prison for allegedly spying for the International Criminal Court in a probe on Darfur war crimes, the state run news agency has reported.

Mohammed Al-Sirri, who was arrested in June 2008 was convicted of spying, criminal conspiracy and passing on confidential military documents about a Sudanese Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Ahmed Haroun to the Hague based court.

He was the first Sudanese to face charges at home of collaborating with the ICC court and its investigation into Darfur crimes, he is also reported to be the first such conviction anywhere in the world linked to helping the ICC.

Local news agency said Mr Al-Sirri conviction is related to Mr Haroun warrant of arrest issued by the ICC detailing 51 charges of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sudan's western Darfur region in 2003 and 2004.

The ICC spokeswoman for the office of the ICC prosecutor denounced the verdict, saying its only aimed at instilling fear among locals who may choose to assist the ICC with the investigations of an alleged genocide in Darfur region.

"If the international community needed one more proof that the Sudanese will not investigate and prosecute massive crimes committed in Darfur, this is it," she said, further indicating that the government instead of collecting evidence, they intimidate, torture or convict anyone suspected be spying on the government.

The ICC is deciding whether also to indict President Omar Al-Bashir on 10 counts of genocide and other charges in Darfur, after prosecutors asked for an arrest warrant in July 2008.

However, Sudan argues that such a move would only make things worse in the war torn Darfur region.

The UN estimates that up to 300, 000 people have been killed and close to 2.7 million have been forced from their homes in Darfur since the conflict began in 2003.

Wife spying on your online communications?

More than quarter of women use the internet to secretly spy on their partners, a survey has revealed.

Jan 28 2009
The under 35s are most paranoid, with 64 per cent of all interviewed admitting they have snooped at a partner's online communication or internet history Photo: GETTY

In a poll of more than 1,000 men and women, researchers found 28 per cent of women log on to the social networking sites of their loved-ones to find out personal information.

Women quizzed in the poll said they used partner's passwords to log onto sites like Facebook, Twitter and Bebo to find out if they are unfaithful or if they are still in touch with ex-lovers.

The research, by Virgin Media, showed that an astonishing 88 per cent of the population use the internet every day and that women are more that twice as likely to spy on their partners than men are.

According the poll, just 16 per cent of men admitted using the internet to spy on their lovers.

The under 35s are most paranoid, with 64 per cent of all interviewed admitting they have snooped at a partner's online communication or internet history.

Yorkshire is the most paranoid, with 30 per cent of the 1,128 people quizzed admitting spying.

Scotland is the least insecure with just 15 per cent owning up to online snooping.

Ashley Stockwell, managing director of brand and marketing at Virgin Media said: "The internet has transformed the way we communicate and conversations can span the globe in a split second.

"The fact that so many people use the internet to keep in contact with friends, start romantic relationships and even spy on their partners, is a fascinating insight into the way we live our lives in the 21st century."

Sasha Edwards, 23, of Maidstone, admitted spying on her ex-partner.

She said: "I looked at my ex's Facebook account and found out he was still in touch with three of his ex-girlfriends and was meeting up with one of them regularly without telling me. That was the end of it as far as I was concerned, so I finished it with him.

"If you can't be truthful in a relationship there is not much point continuing."(source

Light up your country with a spy lighter

Lighter DVR Lighter Camera Micro Recorder Spy Recorder Mini Video Recorder Spy DVR

Check out this ultra patriotic lighter. If you need to display your love of country every time you light up, this is the lighter for you. The bonus is that it is also a spy camera. Ajoka’s cigarette lighter video camera records 640 x 480 QVGA in AVI format at 30 frames per second and supports microSD up to 8GB.

If American Dad was real and not a cartoon, this is what Stan would be carrying around. It features a lithium ion battery for 6 hours of filming and can be charged via USB. And yes, it works as a lighter. If you know a ton of spys, you can order these wholesale for $150 each. Of course now that everyone has seen it, it’s hardly a spy camera, now is it? (product by ajoka)


Dimension: 64.5mm (L) * 38.4mm (W) * 18.4mm (H)
Normal Lighter look makes it ideal for a variety of surveillance uses.
It’s great for use as a hidden camera, spy cam etc.
Real time recording 30 F/S in AVI video format (640x480, QVGA)
Color video with voice lets you clearly see who’s there & hear what they say.
There’s no long cord for you to hide or Wireless frequency to detect.
Use micro SD card from 128MB to 8GB ( Not included)
Playback video on cell phone or PC

Monday, 26 January, 2009

Pakistan 'spy' shot dead by Taliban

JANUARY 26, 2009
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) — Taliban militants shot dead a man and severed one of his hands in Pakistan's lawless northwest tribal region, accusing him of spying for the United States, an official said Monday.

The body of local tribesman Mohammad Hussain was found dumped in the mountains in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan, a notorious hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants.

"Hussain, who was kidnapped a week ago, had multiple bullet wounds in head and one of his hands was chopped off," a security official told AFP.

A note found on Hussain's body said he was "spying for the US," the official said.

Almost every week, militants kidnap and kill tribesmen, accusing them of spying for the Pakistani government or US forces operating across the border in Afghanistan, where Taliban fighters are leading an insurgency.

Pakistan's rugged tribal regions have been wracked by violence since hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda rebels fled across the border to escape the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.

Washington says these regions have become a safe haven for the Islamic behind the insurgency. (Photo AFP)


Sunday, 25 January, 2009

2 US spys' arrested by Georgian intelligence

January 24/2009
The Georgian Ministry of Interior announced Friday arrest of two citizens - Grigor Minasyan and Sargis Hakobjanyan - accused of formation of illegal armed unit and espionage.

A criminal case in compliance with articles 18.1, 223.1 and 314 of the Georgian Penal Code was initiated. The investigation is led by intelligence agency of the Interior Ministry.

Georgian law enforced detained director of Armenian youth center Grigor Minasyan in Samtskhe Javakheti on January 22. They rushed into the center, collected cell phones, some books and computer data carriers.

On the same day, Sargis Hakobjanyan was arrested.

The search in their flats produced no result. The Armenians were transported to Tbilisi, reports.


India arrests Bengladeshi spy

Dhubri (Assam)
Jan 24, 2009
The BSF today arrested a person on the charge of spying for Bangladeshi intelligence agency Director General Field Intelligence (DGFI) at a village in Assam's Dhubri district.

Official sources said Sahinul Sardar alias Palas Biswas of Gopalganj in Bangladesh was arrested from Sardartilla village of Mankachar sub-division in the district.

He was staying in the country for the last one and half months and had visited Kolkata and Agartala, sources said.

Several documents relating to DGFI was seized from him. He was handed over to the police in Mankachar and was interrogated, officials said.

In another raid, police in Guwahati arrested another Bangladeshi national, Mohammed Dilbar, from Sarabati area of the city.

The police were investigating whether the arrested person hailing from Sylhet district of Bangladesh has any link with HuJI militant group active in that country.

Several documents have been seized from him. PTI


Saturday, 24 January, 2009

Canada's spy agency reaches out

Globe and mail
January 23, 2009
The triangular grey headquarters of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service sits far back from Blair road in Ottawa's east end.

The building's placement certainly does not suggest visitors are welcome. Its address will not be found on the CSIS web site or the phone book.

But Canada's spies are making an attempt to address their insular ways, inviting academics and other outside experts inside their doors to brief intelligence officers on what they know.

Without any fanfare or public notice, an international conference kicked off Thursday inside CSIS headquarters on the topic of Pakistan. The invitation list included academics and government officials from Asia, Europe, the United States and Canada.

“It's very much an experiment,” said a senior Canadian security official, in a background lecture to the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Ottawa. “We're very hopeful the experiment will be a success.”

A new “academic outreach office” has been set up inside CSIS to organize the conferences and guest speakers. Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui, a strong critic of CSIS, was brought in for one of the talks, the official said.

Specific officers have been assigned to get out and meet with Canadian academics and other plans are afoot. One would see a ramping up of CSIS's co-op program, in which university students can work at CSIS part time during their studies.

Others are expected to be more controversial. The agency is looking to give money to faculties willing to research security issues and is considering an “academic in residence program.” The later would allow Canadian academics to spend months working at CSIS for an inside look.

The official acknowledged that there is likely to be some pushback from academics, who would see such co-operation as “dancing with the devil,” yet several eager professors have already expressed interest.

Security expert Wesley Wark, who hosted the event at the University of Ottawa, said he would gladly sign up for a chance to work inside CSIS. The concern, he said, would be the need for assurances from CSIS that it would not then try to censor the resulting academic work.

“They simply would not be able to attract what I think they're after, which is real experts and senior scholars, to do this kind of thing unless there was going to be sufficient flexibility; that people could actually use that knowledge in their own research and witting,” he said.


Shot, hanged, stoned for an Afghan spy?

January 24/2009
KABUL (AFP)--On the road to the Afghan mountains, the spy knew the game was up. The Taliban had caught him red-handed. There was only one question: would it be a bullet, the hangman's noose or death by stoning?

A moment's loss of concentration one November evening and his career was finished. A career in espionage, as told to Agence France-Presse, that began when the Americans and the Afghan government recruited him in 2004 to spy on Taliban insurgents.

Ousted from government by the US-led invasion of 2001 and replaced by a Western-backed Afghan administration, the extremist Taliban regrouped and fought back in an insurgency that has accelerated in recent years.

Calling himself Shahir Khan, an alias, he told AFP that each time he found a Taliban hideout, he would take out a discreet GPS fashioned like a mobile phone and map the precise latitude and longitude.

He would melt into the shadows and pass the coordinates onto his paymasters. When it was the Americans, sometimes bombs would fall.

For just over $1,000 a month, he scoured southern Afghanistan before returning home to the Wardak mountains, southwest of Kabul, in 2006.

Determined to help the authorities hunt down these "bandits" who "no longer have anything to do" with the Taliban deposed in 2001, he managed to infiltrate a local cell led by "Timur".

For more than a year, he watched them terrorize his local district of Jaratu, targeting tribal leaders, ambushing truck drivers on the road, killing and snatching hostages whose families could never afford the ransom.

Then one day he said he saw 21 motorbikes "crammed with explosives" apparently destined to blow apart several towns.

That evening, the Taliban cell was to gather at his home to discuss the plans. After supper, he left his guests and slipped quietly outside.

He called the provincial governor to warn him about the planned attacks. He was on the phone just seconds too long. One of the Taliban guards came out to relieve himself, catching him red-handed behind the house.

Khan says after that, everything happened very fast.

"They ordered me behind the wheel of my car, got in and told me to drive into the mountains. The only thing I asked myself was how I was going to die, would it be a bullet to the head, hanging or stoning?"

The district commissioner at the time, Mohammed Naim, confirmed to AFP that a "spy was taken away by the Taliban to be executed."

More than a year has passed since that fateful evening. The overweight man with chubby cheeks and a beard telling the story in a Kabul restaurant laughs his head off.

"All that because a Taliban was bursting to go and it was dark. It's crazy," says Khan. Coy about a spectacular escape that saw him live to see another day, several local officials corroborate what happened next.

Shahir limits himself to admitting there was a car accident.

Naim fills in the details. "He knew he was going to die. At a bend in the road, he drove the car into a ditch. Some of the Taliban were injured.

"The spy said he broke his foot, so the Taliban paid no attention and concentrated on their injured. When they turned round, he had escaped."

There were two hungry days and one freezing night of hiding out in the mountains he knew so well before Khan got back to the road and fled.

Today he says he never got any help from the Americans who "promised to look after him in case of difficulty."

The governor of Wardak was more accommodating and found him a job as a driver in the Afghan capital.

Khan is 46 years old and earns 7,000 Afghanis ($140) a month -- a pittance compared to the salary of a spy and not enough to bring his wife, six sons and two daughters to Kabul. Some day soon he hopes to get a better job.

And he dreams still of one day gathering together enough might and weapons to clear out "his" Wardak of the "bandits".


Tuesday, 20 January, 2009

Iranian Official Warns U.S. On Spying

By Thomas Erdbrink
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

TEHRAN, Jan. 19 -- In a message aimed at the incoming Obama administration, a top Iranian intelligence official cautioned the United States on Monday not to spy on Iran.

"It is necessary to warn the new American administration that they should not follow the path of the previous American government," the head of the counter-espionage unit of Iran's Intelligence Ministry said, according to the semiofficial Fars News Agency.

He described a "full-fledged intelligence war" between the two nations and offered rare, detailed comments about what he described as "heavy damages" suffered by the United States in efforts to recruit agents among doctors, artists and fashion designers in Iran.

The official, who was not named by local media, said two Iranian AIDS specialists, whose arrests last year sparked concern in the West, are part of a group of four "ringleaders" who were recently convicted of involvement in an alleged U.S.-funded plot to overthrow the Islamic government. Dozens of others have been arrested and interrogated, the official said.

He accused the United States of stationing intelligence agents in neighboring countries, and specifically mentioned the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Kuwait and Azerbaijan as places from where the United States is designing "plots" against Iran. The agents are seeking to create "social crisis, street demonstrations and ethnic disputes," he said. "A soft revolution has been programmed against our country and carried out in some instances, but it was suffocated in the cradle," Fars News quoted the official as saying.

"This is a well-timed message to the incoming administration that following previous policies regarding Iran will turn out to be a failure," said Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a professor of international relations at Tehran's Allameh Tabatabaei University. "They want to show the new president that he should adopt a new, less-confronting approach to Iran."

Obama has said he sees Iran as a "genuine threat," but he is also pledging to increase diplomatic efforts to engage it, in a shift from the isolationist approach of President Bush. The Bush administration earmarked $75 million to promote democracy in Iran. Leaders of the Islamic republic have often expressed concern that the United States is using intellectuals, nongovernmental organizations and dissidents to try to undermine Iran.

The head of the counterespionage unit said his organization was surprised by the types of people allegedly approached by American intelligence agents.

"They contacted people we didn't expect to be of their interest: fashion designers, doctors, professors, clerics, athletes and artists," the official said, according to Fars News.

"These groups would be invited for month-long trips to the United States," he said. "They would attend gatherings and tours in America which would try to present the U.S. as the only savior of Iran. There, they would be asked about passive air defense, infrastructure centers and the intelligence situation."

He added that four "network heads" had been arrested in Iran and convicted recently by a secret court. According to Fars News, the official said two of those arrested were physicians Arash and Kamiar Alaei, who are brothers. Other news media also named them. They have run HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs in Iran and have held training courses for Afghan and Tajik medical workers, according to the Associated Press. The European Union last year called for their release.

Iran's head of counterespionage said those convicted were among the alleged plot's main agents, "who cooperated with U.S. intelligence agents consciously and intentionally, and implemented their demands in detail," Fars News reported.


Taleban kill six men for spying'

January 20

Suspected Taleban militants have killed six men in north-west Pakistan after accusing them of spying for the United States, local officials say.

The bodies were found on roads in Miranshah and neighbouring Mir Ali in North Waziristan.

The lawless region is known to be a hub of Taleban and al-Qaeda militants.

At least 15 people have been killed by suspected militants in the region in the past two weeks for allegedly spying for US forces or Pakistan.

The total in North and South Waziristan over the past six years is now more than 100.

Drone attacks

Officials told the BBC Urdu service two of those killed were local tribesmen, while two were Afghan nationals from the eastern province of Khost.

The remaining two men were Pakistani nationals from Karak district in North West Frontier Province, they said.

Written notes found on the bodies said the men were punished for spying for US troops operating in Afghanistan.

The notes warned people not to remove the bodies until the end of the day so that people could see how the life of a "spy" would, an official said.

In recent weeks, local Taleban groups have claimed responsibility for such killings, saying the men killed were instrumental in guiding US drone attacks on militant camps in the region.(BBC)

They say the killings have led to a reduction in the frequency of the drone attacks.


Monday, 19 January, 2009

Iran intel gives low-down on busted spy ring

Mon, 19 Jan 2009
Iran's Intelligence Ministry has disclosed details about a 'US-backed' spy ring which had plans to topple the Tehran government.

Following the arrest of four Iranian nationals on charges of plotting to overthrow the government with Washington's support, head of the counterespionage department in the Intelligence Ministry said Monday that the group intended to build social and political tension in the country.

The intelligence official said "organizing anti-government public rallies and creating ethnic division in the country" were among the tactics to be employed by the network.

The official, who did not reveal his name, added that the group had even been successful in luring a number of Azeri people in Azerbaijan Province into joining voices of political dissent in the country.

Earlier on Saturday, Tehran's Islamic Revolution Court sentenced the four suspects without announcing the length of their sentence.

"They have confessed to trying to distance the people of Iran from the government and introduce the United States as their sole savior," the court said in a statement.

Two of the detainees are internationally renowned doctors Arash and Kamyar Alaei, who specialize in HIV/AIDS.

In the Monday press conference, the top Iranian counterespionage official said that the US intelligence agencies had resorted to "soft overthrow projects" over the past decade, as there is no international statute law against such measures.

The official added that the United States, which had spent $32 million on the project, intended to infiltrate elite and expert circles and was seeking to obtain "information on the country's infrastructure, microbiological achievements and defensive capacity."

People such as Under Secretary of State William Burns, "Goli Ameri (Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs), Ramin Asgar (US official) and some other people linked with the US intelligence service in the region had a direct involvement in this project," the official said.

He also accused American institutions such as the Wilson Centre, Soros's Open Society Institute and the US-based International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) of being involved in the plot.

Earlier in 2007, Iran arrested Haleh Esfandiari, Head of the Wilson Center's Middle East program, and Kian Tajbakhsh, with links to the Soros institute, on suspicions of endangering the country's national security. The two suspects were released after spending three months in detention.

The unnamed official said the Iranian intelligence operatives had been able to infiltrate the network and "launch an intelligence war with the CIA by leaking false information."

According to the official, the United Kingdom and Israel were also involved in anti-Iranian efforts which would soon be disclosed by the Intelligence Ministry.

The report of the new arrests comes shortly after Mohammad-Javad Zarif, the former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, claimed in November that the White House is taking essential measures to orchestrate a "Velvet Revolution" in Iran.

"American officials have been inviting Iranian figures to so-called scientific seminars over the past few years. However, when the Iranians attend these sessions, they realize they have gathered to discuss measures to topple the Iranian government," Zarif was quoted by Fars news agency as saying.

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed in July that US Congressional leaders had secretly agreed to President George W. Bush's $400-million funding request for a major escalation in covert operations inside Iran.

Only days before the arrests, the New York Times disclosed that President George W. Bush had denied a request by Israel for specialized bunker-busting bombs to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Instead, the US president declared that he had authorized new covert actions intended to sabotage the country's nuclear program.

Site of the Shiraz explosion. The men accused of carrying out the April fatal bombing in a mosque confessed to being brainwashed by a Western terrorist cell.
Earlier in April, a blast rocked a religious center in the southwestern Iranian city of Shiraz, killing 14 people and injuring at least 200 others.

Iran held Britain, Israel and the US responsible for the deadly blast. Officials suggested that Tehran may press charges against the US and UK over their involvement in the attack.

Seven people who were charged over the fatal bombing confessed to "being brainwashed into launching a terrorist attack in the country", adding that their other targets included "Iran's oil pipelines, Tehran's international book fair as well as other crowded locations in different cities such as scientific, religious and educational centers".

The Iranian counterespionage director warned the incoming government of US President-elect Barack Obama against "going down the same path of the previous administration" with regards to their relations with the Islamic Republic.

While Iran charges the US government with supporting the espionage activities, the US State Department denied the report last Wednesday, saying, "Any charge against an Iranian that he or she is working with the United States to overthrow the Iranian government is baseless."


Cheaters use spy gear on China's civil service exam

January 20
SHANGHAI (AFP) — More than 1,000 applicants were caught cheating on China's civil servant exams, with some using spy technology such as micro-earpieces and wireless transmitters, state media reported Monday.

More than 300 were caught in the act during the November 30 exam, while about 700 others were deemed to have cheated because their papers "shared much conformity," the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The State Bureau of Civil Servants' announcement that a record number of cheaters were caught highlights the difficulties for China's ruling Communist Party in stamping out rampant corruption among its ranks.

"We can hardly trust these people to cheat only on exams. What if they cheat in the exercise of public power once they are put in a public position?" the English-language China Daily wrote in an editorial on Monday.

"Such dishonesty in exams raises suspicions about their motivations to get access to public power."

Most of the cheaters were caught in the capital, Beijing, and in the northeastern province of Liaoning, Xinhua reported.

More than half used technology provided by illegal organisations that provided answers in exchange for money, the newspaper said.

Some high-tech cheaters used carefully disguised wireless transmitters to obtain answers, while others received radio signals through tiny earpieces, Xinhua cited the bureau as saying.

In a country where the civil service is very strong and the communist authorities maintain firm rule, a position in the public sector is synonymous with power.

Demand for work in the public sector is particularly strong this year as it remains a haven of stability at a time when millions of workers across China face being laid off amid the global economic crisis.

A record 775,000 people took the exam to compete for 13,500 national civil servant jobs -- 57 people for every available position.

Cheaters would be disqualified from the exam, and in serious cases be barred from retaking civil servant exams for the next five years, Xinhua reported.

However, the China Daily wrote that offenders deserved the "severest punishment" and reminded readers that in ancient times imperial exam cheats were executed.

"Both designers of the exam system and emperors, who were the top leaders of the government, knew how dangerous it could be to put power in the hands of a corrupt, immoral person," the paper wrote.


Cambridge spies controversy set to be re-opened with Blunt memoir

By Jon Swaine

The autobiography of Blunt, the "Fourth Man" in the Cambridge Soviet spy ring, could be embarrassing for the children of Establishment figures whose secrets have never been disclosed, according to those who have read it.

Blunt, once an art adviser to the Queen, died in 1983. The only manuscript of his memoir was locked in the British Library the following year and given a 25-year embargo by his estate in order to prevent further trouble.

With that soon to be lifted, it is thought a published version could be available within months. It has been speculated that the identities of Whitehall and security service staff who assisted the ring could be disclosed.

Blunt, a former MI5 officer, confessed to the Government in 1964 that he had been a double agent, passing secrets to the Soviet Union from 1934.

He had been instrumental in the recruitment of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, fellow spies who defected to the USSR in 1951. Kim Philby, another member of the "Cambridge spies", defected in 1963.

However, Blunt secured immunity from prosecution under a secret deal and his identity was not exposed for another 15 years, when Margaret Thatcher, then the Prime Minister, named him as a spy in a written answer to the House of Commons. He was stripped of his knighthood.

It has long been thought a senior British intelligence figure asked Blunt to facilitate Burgess's and Maclean's escapes from Britain, and that his identity lies in the memoir.

The book, which Blunt worked on from the time of his exposure to his death, is also said to contain a forthright account on what motivated him to betray his country for some 30 years.

It is not known whether it will contain thoughts on Mrs Thatcher, who defied the advice of senior spies in order to name Blunt.

The type-written manuscript was handed to the British Library by John Golding, the art historian, who was a friend of Blunt and the executor of his will.

Mr Golding told The Daily Telegraph: "There's nothing in there that could embarrass anyone alive today. But some of the descendants of those who feature may be quite upset by it."

He added that he had been offered "huge amounts of money" to hand over the rights to the book when news of its existence was confirmed in 2001. Refusing to comment further on its contents, he said: "You'll have to see for yourself."


Sunday, 18 January, 2009

Won Sei Hoon-the new South Korean chief spy

January 18
SEOUL (AFP) — South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak Sunday named new chiefs of police and the country's main spy agency as part of a government shakeup, officials said.

Won Sei-Hoon, minister of public administration and security and a former deputy mayor of Seoul, replaces Kim Sung-Ho as director of the National Intelligence Service, Lee's office said in a statement.

Kim Seok-Ki, head of the Seoul metropolitan police agency, was named to replace Eo Cheong-Soo as national police commissioner, it said.

The reshuffle came amid high expectations that President Lee would be conducting a bigger government shakeup soon as he marks his first year in office on February 25.

Lee, who took office with a victory margin of 48.7 percent in elections, has been under pressure to revamp his government whose popularity stands at around 20 percent.

A cabinet reshuffle is expected to come after the Lunar New Year holidays from January 25-27, according to presidential aides.

Seoul's Yonhap news agency, quoting unnamed sources, said President Lee is considering naming former prime minister Han Duck-Soo as ambassador to the United States.


‘Abbas's spies led Israel to Siam’

By Khaled Abu Toameh (The Jerusalam Post)
Jan 17, 2009
Hamas over the weekend accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of being responsible for the assassination of its interior minister, Said Siam. Siam, who was in charge of Hamas's security forces and militias in the Gaza Strip, was the most senior leader of the movement to be killed during Operation Cast Lead. He was killed Thursday during an air-strike on his brother's residence in Gaza City. The brother, Iyad, was also killed in the attack, as was Siam's son.

Salah Bardaweel, a Hamas legislator and spokesman, accused Abbas of playing a "major role" in the assassination of Siam and the military offensive against Hamas.

Siam was considered one of Fatah's fiercest enemies in the Gaza Strip. His Fatah rivals held him responsible for the death of dozens of Fatah members when Hamas seized full control over the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.

Upon hearing of Siam's death, several Fatah representatives in the West Bank expressed deep satisfaction, while others openly rejoiced. Fatah-controlled news Web sites published comments from Fatah supporters who went as far as thanking Defense Minister Ehud Barak for ordering the assassination of the top Hamas official.

Bardaweel claimed that Abbas loyalists in the Gaza Strip had been spying on Hamas leaders and members on the instructions of senior Fatah leaders in the West Bank.

He said that the information had been passed on to Israel so that it could launch attacks on Hamas members and institutions in the Gaza Strip.

"Abbas has been participating in the last [Israeli] military operation through his men in the Gaza Strip, who have been pointing out the homes of Hamas members," Bardaweel said. "We have no doubt that Abbas and his agents were involved in the assassination of Siam."

Bardaweel also claimed that Hamas had captured - during raids on the homes of Fatah activists - maps and other documents that detailed the locations of Hamas institutions and the addresses of some of the movement's top leaders.

"We arrested some of these Fatah people and they admitted that they had been gathering information at the request of the Fatah leadership in Ramallah," Bardaweel said. "They even provided us with the names of their Fatah handlers who were then passing on the information to Israel."

When Operation Cast Lead began three weeks ago, Hamas accused Abbas and Fatah of "collusion" with Israel. But this is the first time since then that Hamas has accused Abbas and his loyalists of helping Israel in its war against the movement.

Another Hamas representative, Ismail Radwan, claimed that Abbas and some Arab heads of state knew in advance about Israel's intention to attack the Gaza Strip.

"According to our sources, Abbas and some Arab regimes even encouraged Israel to overthrow the legitimate government of Hamas," he said. "They also encouraged Israel to kill senior Hamas figures like Said Siam."

Radwan reiterated Hamas charges that the military operation was primarily designed to bring Abbas and Fatah back to the Gaza Strip, from where they were kicked out in 2007.

"Abbas has formed an emergency room in his headquarters to prepare Fatah for returning to the Gaza Strip," the Hamas representative said. "But they won't succeed in achieving their goal."

In response to the allegations, Fatah officials in Ramallah said that Siam was killed thanks to information passed to Israel by one of his bodyguards.

"Hamas has been infiltrated by the Israelis for a long time," one official told The Jerusalem Post. "Hamas is full of spies and corrupt people who are prepared to do anything in return for a few hundred shekels."

But some Fatah operatives said over the weekend that they were "extremely disappointed" by the way Abbas and the PA had dealt with the IDF operation. They said that Abbas's behavior during the operation has caused severe damage to Fatah's reputation and credibility among the Palestinians.

One of the Fatah operatives, Hatem Abdel Qader, told the Post that Abbas and the Fatah leadership had failed to play an effective role to stop the offensive. He said that ongoing rivalries and bickering in Fatah had crippled the faction, preventing it from assuming its responsibilities toward the Palestinians.

"Fatah, which triggered the modern Palestinian revolution and led its national project for decades, has become incompetent in light of the threats facing the Palestinian people," he said. "All the demonstrations that took place in Jerusalem and the West Bank were organized by field activists and were not sponsored or led by the Fatah leadership."


Friday, 16 January, 2009

Sex with spy leads to jail for soldier

January 17, 2009
JoongAng Daily
A South Korean army officer who was caught in honey trap set by a North Korean spy has been sentenced to three and a half years in a military prison, the Army said yesterday.

The 27-year-old first lieutenant, identified only by the last name Hwang, was court-martialed on charges of assisting North Korean spy Won Jeong-hwa’s espionage operation and failing to notify the upper chain of command that he was aware of the spy’s identity.

Hwang was convicted on Tuesday, and Lim Choung-bin, the Army chief of staff, confirmed the decision yesterday, the Army said.

Hwang has a week to lodge an appeal.

The 34-year-old spy was indicted in April 2008 for a series of National Security Law violations, including using sex to extract confidential military information. The so-called “Korean Mata Hari” scandal rocked the nation, but North Korea said the espionage allegations against Won were a “complete fabrication by the South.”

Won, who identified herself later as an agent of the North’s Ministry of State Security, entered the South by posing as a defector in 2001. She slept with several South Korean military officers, including Hwang, to get confidential information.

Her other missions included planning to assassinate Hwang Jang-yop, former secretary of the North’s Workers’ Party and the highest North Korean official to defect to the South.

The spy was convicted last October and sentenced to five years in prison. She didn’t appeal.

Won’s stepfather, Kim Dong-sun, 64, was also indicted last year on charges of posing as a defector and funding her espionage operation. His trial is currently ongoing, but unlike Won, Kim has denied most of the charges.

Meanwhile, Yonhap News Agency reported last week that the prosecution and intelligence authorities are searching for another of Kim’s stepdaughters. She disappeared during their investigation.

According to the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office, the woman is in her 30s and is a witness for their case against Kim. Prosecutors said the woman entered Korea with Kim in 2006 as a defector and accompanied him on trips to China in 2007 and 2008. Kim was found to have met with North Korean agents during those trips.


Somali Islamists execute "spy" for Ethiopians

Reuters UK
MOGADISHU, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Hardline Somali Islamist insurgents said on Friday they executed a politician accused of being a "spy" for Ethiopian troops and militia opposed to them.

The shooting of Abdirahman Ahmed, 55, in the southern port of Kismayu was the highest-profile such execution by the al Shabaab (Youth) group since a young woman was stoned to death late last year after being accused of adultery.

Al Shabaab, which is on a U.S. list of terrorism groups, took Kismayu in August 2008 during its now two-year war against the Somali government and its Ethiopian military backers. It controls large swathes of south-central Somalia.

A local spokesman for al Shabaab, Sheikh Hassan Yacqub, said Ahmed had been warned several times to break ties with the Ethiopians and local militias who previously controlled Kismayu.

"He was in our jail for eight days and then we took him before the court, and finally we executed him according to Islamic sharia law," he told Reuters. "Anybody who spies for the non-believers will definitely face the death sentence."

A statement on, one of several sites used by the militants, said Ahmed, was shot after he confessed to being "Allah's enemy" and a court found him guilty of trying to mastermind the re-capture of Kismayu.

Local residents said he had been buried in a place called the "non-believers' cemetery".

Also on Friday, foreign and Somali media watchdogs said kidnappers had released a local journalist, Abdifatah Mohamed Elmi, who was kidnapped in August last year in Mogadishu.

Two foreign journalists taken with him, a Canadian and an Australian, are still missing.

"The Somali journalist's release is obviously good news, but we will feel no relief until the kidnappers have also released the two foreign journalists," Reporters Without Borders said.

"Our concern about their fate is as strong as ever given the growing instability in Mogadishu.


Taliban Kill 'U.S. Spy'


The Taliban shot dead a 30-year-old man accused of spying for U.S. forces across the border in Afghanistan, media reports said.

They said the man, who was abducted from Miranshah in North Waziristan a month ago after a suspected American drone attack on a militant hideout in the area, was gunned down before dawn Thursday and his body dumped on a roadside in the same area. A note placed near the body described him as a 'U.S. spy.'

Earlier Wednesday, in North Waziristan, the Taliban released a senior government official who was abducted last month from Mir Ali district.

"Asmatullah Wazir was freed unconditionally last night," a local official said, adding that his release had followed official pressure on his abductors.

Thursday, 15 January, 2009

Departing CIA Spy Chief Regrets


January 15, 2009, 5:35 pm
By Mark Mazzetti
Michael V. HaydenMichael V. Hayden, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, gave an exit interview to reporters at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va.

Michael V. Hayden, the departing director of the Central Intelligence Agency, struck a defiant and occasionally combative tone on Thursday as he vigorously defended the C.I.A.’s network of secret prisons and its aggressive interrogation methods.

Giving no ground to critics who argue that the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program used torture and produced little information about the workings of Al Qaeda, Mr. Hayden credited the C.I.A. with striking repeated blows on the terror network, and said that any effort to investigate the past would breed risk aversion in the ranks of the clandestine service.

He dismissed congressional efforts to force C.I.A. interrogators to abide by the military’s interrogation rules, saying it was a “real shot in the dark” to expect that a slate of non-coercive interrogation methods would be effective against Al Qaeda’s senior leaders.

The C.I.A. years ago abandoned some of its most aggressive techniques, including “waterboarding.” But Mr. Hayden still defended the agency’s response in the weeks and months after the Sept. 11 attacks, and the now controversial decisions by senior C.I.A. officials “for whom doing nothing is an immoral choice,” he said.

“The agency did none of this out of enthusiasm. It did it out of duty and it did it with the best legal advice it had,” he said.

Mr. Hayden, who retired from the Air Force last summer after nearly 39-year military career, has drawn fire for his outspoken defense both of the C.I.A. program and the Bush Administration’s domestic eavesdropping program, which he ran as head of the National Security Agency.

He is being replaced at the C.I.A. by Leon E. Panetta, a former congressman and White House chief of staff.

With days remaining in his tenure at the C.I.A, he said he would be proud to be remembered for advocating a muscular strategy against Al Qaeda.

“When the history of this agency during this period is written, the last thing you’re going to say that it was risk averse. Trust me,” he said.

Since last summer, he said, American and Pakistani operatives have taken aim at Al Qaeda’s hub in the Pakistani mountains. There have been dozens of airstrikes by C.I.A. operated Predator drones in recent months, although Mr. Hayden would not acknowledge the existence of the attacks.

Mr. Hayden said that the attrition rates at the C.I.A. are at an historic low, that tens of thousands of applicants submit resumes each year, and that the agency would soon reach the goals for new analysts and clandestine officers set by President Bush in 2004. But he said that the C.I.A. would continue to bring in a steady flow of new recruits, even if it meant early retirement for some agency veterans.

Israeli charged with attempting to spy on behalf of Iran

By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent
January 15 2009
Israel Police and the Shin Bet on Thursday indicted an Israeli citizen living in Argentina for allegedly attempting to spy on Israel on behalf of Iran. Mauricio Segel, who is a resident of Argentina, was arrested three weeks ago. He has been indicted on charges of holding contact with a foreign agent.

According to the indictment, Segel went to Tehran's embassy in Argentina in 2006 and offered to help Iranian nationals gain access to Israeli documents.

The defendant allegedly supplied the Iranians with his own passport and identification card and offered to provide more information in return for money. Segel was arrested by officials from the Shin Bet and the police's international crimes unit upon landing in Israel three weeks ago.

Last May, an Israeli man born in Iran was arrested for allegedly supplying intelligence information to Tehran intelligence in 2006. According to the Israeli investigation, the defendant supplied Iran with names of he knew apparently working for the defense establishment.


Taiwan checks security after arresting alleged Chinese spies

Taipei - Taiwan on Thursday began to check its security firewall after an employee in the presidential office and his friend were detained on suspicion of spying for China.

"President Ma Ying-jeou has instructed us to cooperate with the judicial investigation and to examine the integrity of our staff," Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi told a news conference. He said that at this stage, the presidential office treats the incident as a judicial case, and refused to discuss details.

But the Taiwan public was shocked by the detention of the two alleged spies and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) blasted Ma for moving too close to China.

"This case shows that there is no mutual trust between Taiwan and China, the invisible war is continuing, and China has not stopped its preparations to swallow Taiwan," DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsan told reporters.

"It is time for Ma to adjust his pro-China policies," he added. Wang Jen-ping, an employee in the presidential office, and Chen Pin-jen, a former assistant to a lawmaker, were detained early Thursday following overnight questioning at the Bureau of Investigation.

Prosecutors demanded the men's detention on suspicion of selling state secrets to China and to prevent them from colluding to destroy evidence of their alleged crimes. Investigators arrested Wang and Chen following six months' surveillance.

On Wednesday morning, some 20 prosecutors and investigators searched the two men's homes and Wang's office, and took away four sacks of evidence from Wang's office.

Initial investigation shows that Wang photo-copied secret documents and gave them to Chen, who emailed them to Tang Gang, a member of China's Ministry of National Security, Taiwan news reports said.

The information leaked to China included Taiwan's preparation for the May 20, 2008 transfer of power, when Ma was to succeed outgoing president Chen Shui-bian.

It included a list of members of the power-transfer committee, names of departments of the presidential office and their telephone numbers.

Taiwan media said prosecutors are probing if there are higher-ranking officials in the presidential office who might be involved in this spy ring.

It is the first case of Taiwan's arresting alleged Chinese spies since Ma, from the China-friendly Chinese Nationalist Party, took office.


Israel charges journalists with espionage

Wed, 14 Jan 2009
Al-Alam correspondent
Khezir Shahin

An Israeli court has indicted two journalists, who worked for the Iranian Arabic-language news network al-Alam, on charges of espionage.

Alma correspondent Khezir Shahin and producer Mohammed Saran have been indicted in an Israeli court for passing information to the enemy, Israeli Army Radio reported.

The indictment came after an Israeli court forced the two journalists, who hold Israeli citizenships, to remain in detention for over a week without pressing charges. Shahin and Saran were taken into custody on January 5.

Israeli authorities claim that the two journalists had violated censorship laws by covering the launch of the ground incursion into the Gaza Strip before the military had cleared the information for publication.

In Israel, all journalists must sign an agreement to abide by Israeli censorship laws in order to get government authorization. In this way, the Israeli military has the power to shut down media outlets or detain journalists when it feels their work may pose a 'security threat'.

Since the beginning of their deadly offensive into Gaza, Israeli forces have injured several journalists, including an Algerian ENTV network cameraman who died December 27 because of the severity of the wounds he sustained during an air raid.

A Press TV station in Gaza has also come under attack during the Israeli attacks.

According to Press TV correspondent Hamada Ghraib the building was targeted even though lights were constantly shining on the roof, marking the building.

The UN has called on Israel to halt its military censorship and lift the ban on local and international media professionals entering Gaza.

The UN says Israel must provide journalists from international media outlets permission to immediately entry into the Gaza Strip and allow full and independent coverage of events.

UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Kenichiro Matsuura has also urged Israel to respect the freedom of the press as well as UN resolutions which prohibit attacks on journalists and media installations.


Washington museum covers broad swath of espionage history

January 14th, 2009 IANS
Washington, Jan 14 (DPA) Espionage is called the second oldest profession in the world and it’s no less thrilling and wild as the world’s oldest profession, prostitution.For centuries, people have spied on each other, fascinated by the intrigue, deception and in modern times by the latest technical gadgetry used to uncover secrets. And naturally, after the end of the Cold War, stories of espionage and the objects used to spy during that historical era became an obvious subject for a museum.

Just such a facility opened in the summer of 2002 in Washington DC. Dedicated to highlighting the adventure and enigmatic past of the mysterious trade craft, the International Spy Museum attracts nearly one million visitors annually. It describes itself as the only public museum in the US solely dedicated to espionage and the only one in the world providing a global perspective on the profession.

Three cars - an Aston Martin, a compact car and a Trabant - provide symbolism in the museum, located about one kilometre from the White House and just a few minutes walk from the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Aston Martin DB5 is the one James Bond drove in the movie “Goldfinger”, complete with rotating license plates and machine gun.

Mannequins inside the compact car represent the many ingenious ways people used to flee the communist countries of the East Bloc during the Cold War. And the Trabant, in its time a proud product of East German industry, sits in an extensive area called City of Spies featuring depictions of post-war Berlin through the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In the museum, only a few metres separate Hollywood’s version of espionage and tragedies that played out in real life.

“Our visitors should be educated but should not fall asleep in the process,” said Thomas Boghardt, a historian and writer from Hamburg who has worked at the museum for four years. “There is a fine line between entertainment and education, but the number of visitors we attract seems to confirm what we do.”

The museum can be described as very American in style. Visitors can touch and try out things and are constantly encouraged to participate. A large sign at the entrance challenges guests to look around for something suspicious.

Among the visible items are so-called “dead drops,” hiding places where agents could leave documents. There’s also a potted plant in the window and cigarettes on the table. Could these items signal that fresh information is about to be delivered?

A letter from Mata Hari, the World War I exotic dancer and courtesan who was executed in France for espionage, is displayed alongside a carrier pigeon with a camera, lipstick that doubles as a pistol and dead rats whose bodies were used to hide rolls of film.

Visitors also learn the advantages of glass desks as they offer nary a hiding place for a wiretap. And they learn how spies got rid of enemies by using poison-tipped umbrellas, cigarette boxes laced with explosives and briefcases with high voltage in the handle.

More recent events also are covered. Under a satellite image of the Chinese island of Hainan, a sign challenges visitors to find a reconnaissance plane and a Chinese hunter. The hunter can be quickly found with the available magnifying glass, but the aircraft, which caused an international incident when it made an emergency landing on the island in 2001, is harder to identify.

Even more difficult is finding Osama bin Laden’s terrorist training camps in satellite images of the Pakistani desert. But with a bit of help, they also can be found. Nearby, visitors put on headphones to distinguish submarine sonar signals from whale calls.

“I also was sceptical about this playful aspect of the museum,” said Boghardt, “But for the entrance fee, you’ve got to offer people something.” Admission is $18 for adults and $15 for children, a considerable sum especially compared with the free admission at the numerous Smithsonian museums in the US capital.


Wednesday, 14 January, 2009

Spies sought to infiltrate government bodies:Iran

Tehran Times

Iranian Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei announced that spies had been trying to infiltrate into governmental bodies.

The legal proceedings are underway and a court decree will be issued in the near future, Mohseni Ejei told reporters following the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

According to Judiciary spokesman Ali-Reza Jamshidi, a gang of saboteurs connected to the U.S. government were recently discovered and destroyed. Jamshidi said the spy ring was linked to the CIA and backed by the U.S. State Department.

The saboteurs were trying to overthrow the government by launching a “velvet” revolution, the spokesman explained.

Mohseni Ejei said the Intelligence Ministry counter-espionage unit does not necessarily take actions against the spy rings but monitor their activities and when necessary the unit apprehends them.

Iran has control over those spy rings that are currently involved in espionage activities against the country through “soft” plans, he said, adding the ministry will crack down against these persons whenever it deems necessary.

On the supervision over foreign media networks that are active inside Iran, Ejei said the Intelligence Ministry will stop their activities if they act against national security.


Pak training 700 women as 'spies' against India

Red Ring
Jammu: Security forces have unearthed the new face of terror. In a stunning confession, a young woman arrested while crossing the Line Of Control (LOC) revealed how hundreds of women were being trained as ‘spies’ in the terror camps of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), report agencies.

On being questioned what she saw at the camps across the border, a woman trained to infiltrate said it all. "There are training camps where over 700 women are being trained," said 23 year-old-Asiya, the wife of Pakistani Army havaldar Mohammad Sajjad.

Asiya was arrested over two months ago while crossing the LoC into Rajouri. Asiya has now disclosed how hundreds of women were being trained in terror camps in PoK.

"In Bimbar camp I saw mujahids training along with women participants. There were over 700 women. They have learnt how to fire. But I do not know how to fire," said the woman.

Senior intelligence officers say that there have been recent inputs that women have been trained to cross over and settle down in Jammu and Kashmir to finally act as spies here.

Asiya reportedly had been sent to gather information on the deployment of Indian forces at the Line of Control. She has also confessed that Pakistani army and intelligence agencies train militants.

"There are camps in, Bimar, Kotli, Sensa. In Sensa, the Army trains the mujahids and in Kotli it is the agencies that train them. But in Bimbar it is the outsiders," provided Asiya.

The women read, study and undergo training sessions on using firearms, said Asiya. So, clearly the entire operation goes on under the garb of education and schooling.

Asiya had been arrested on November 13 last year and ever since then her confessions have revealed the active role of women in terror networks.

In March 2008, two women had been arrested in Doda as Lashkar's over the ground workers. In 2007, Nahida Altaf, a law student was also arrested for allegedly working for Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. But Asiya's chilling confessions have proved that terror really does have a new face altogether.


Indian IB offers fresh contracts to retired spies

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Facing a shortage of spies, India’s Intelligence Bureau has offered its retired officers who are less than the age of 65, to rejoin on contract.

Sources in the intelligence agency said letters were being dispatched for the old hands’ recruitment after getting clearance from the Personnel and Training Department, which was the administrative setup for the agency. The offer had already been made to some 300 retired officials ranging from the rank of inspector to the level of deputy directors or branch heads.

The move was initiated primarily to augment the agency’s capacity on an urgent basis, keeping in view the urgent manpower requirement to meet the ever-growing terrorist activities in the country, the sources said. The retired agents were approached to make use of their experience, particularly in training fresh recruits, the sources said.

They said the IB was being criticised since last month’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai and the government had now determined that the agency was short of the manpower to shoulder the kind of responsibility it should. 3,500 posts were vacant. The government ordered not only to fill these posts but also sanctioned the creation of 1,500 additional posts, the sources added.


Tuesday, 13 January, 2009

Iran Arrests Four Over “CIA-Backed Plot”

January 13th, 2009
Michael van der Galien
Iranian government said Tuesday it had arrested four individuals; the four are suspected of being part of a group that wants to bring about regime change in the Islamist country. Such arrests occur quite frequently in Iran; what makes this arrest different, however, is that Tehran says that the four were on the payroll of the CIA, the American intelligence organization.

Alireza Jamshidi, a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, said the four had tried to recruit others but neglected to say what the group was planning to do exactly and how.

“The group was trying to recruit more people by setting up a network and training new agents,” the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency quoted Jamshidi as saying.

“The network was funded and guided by the Bush administration, the State Department and the CIA, with the objective of bringing about a regime change in Iran,” Jamshidi said, according to another semi-official news agency, Mehr.

The announcement came shortly after reports surfaced saying that the U.S. had refused to aide Israel when it wanted to attack Iranian nuclear facilities last year. Bush told the Israelis that he could not give permission for an air strike. Instead of using force, he said, he had recently stepped up covert operations in Iran.

Normally one would expect Tehran’s accusations of a group being paid by the CIA to be propaganda. In this particular case, however, Tehran’s explanation for the arrests could very well be correct.

The U.S. has, logically and rightfully, stepped up covert operations in Iran in an attempt to bring about regime change and, of course, to potentially sabotage the country’s nuclear energy project or, at the very least, to keep an eye on it.

Obviously, the arrests mean quite a blow to U.S. operations in Iran but they are also a sign that the U.S. is indeed stepping up its efforts to remove the Ayatollah and his followers from power and to replace them with more pragmatic, possibly even secularist individuals and groups.

And that is a good sign for those of us who worry about Iran’s extremism, support for terrorism, influence in the region and, lastly, its nuclear program.


Taliban Kill Afghan "Spy" In Pakistani Tribal Area

Tuesday January 13,2009
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) Taliban militants shot dead an Afghan national in Pakistan's lawless northwestern tribal belt after accusing him of spying for the United States, a local official said Tuesday.

Militants have killed dozens of local tribesmen and Afghan refugees on allegations of spying for mainly the Pakistani government or U.S. forces operating across the border in Afghanistan.

The bullet-riddled body of Bahadur Khan was found early Tuesday in a market in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, the official said, adding that Khan had been kidnapped from the same place the previous day.

"A note found with the body said, 'He was spying for the U.S. and anyone spying on us will end up like this,'" the official said.

Pakistan's tribal areas have been wracked by violence since hundreds of Taliban and Al Qaeda militants sought refuge in the region after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan toppled the hardline Taliban regime in late 2001.


Monday, 12 January, 2009

Man posing as Pakistani IB official for 20 years caught

January 12, 2008
KARACHI: The Intelligence Bureau (IB)in Pakistan has arrested a man involved in cheating the administration of the University of Karachi (KU) and various governmental departments, claiming to be an IB official, Daily Times learnt on Saturday.

According to sources, Sultan, 67, used to interfere in various matters of KU and had excellent relations with all the high-ups of the university since more than 20 years.

His arrest was made from Islamabad by IB and he was handed to the Mobina Town Police of Gulshan Town on Friday where an FIR for fraud was registered against him on the complaint of the state.

“He has been sent to jail on the directives of the court,” SHO Shabbir Hussain told Daily Times. The SHO also confirmed the news. Interestingly, Sultan’s game came to an end when he told a KU official

“You have not been given the position that you wanted because you are not respecting me,” on which the official wrote a letter to the editor of a local newspaper and mentioned the remarks.

Sources in KU pointed out that IB took notice of the letter and the following investigation revealed that Sultan was not an employee of the IB and he was just playing with the entire KU administration.

Sunday, 11 January, 2009

Iranian hackers ‘bring down Mossad website’

TEHRAN (FNA)- A group of Iranian hackers said they have managed to bring down the Israeli secret service’s web site to voice solidarity with Gazans.

Ashiyaneh, a group of Iranian hackers announced they had carried out the cyber attack against Mossad’s web site to protest the ongoing Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip.

“The Zionist Regime considers the merciless killing of the defenseless people in Gaza as its right and assumes that the world people will keep silent about it,” the hacker group announced in a statement on Wednesday.

The head of the group has said the fact that Mossad’s web site has been hacked despite high security measures makes the spy agency a laughing stock.

The web site was down for more than two hours and the Israeli intelligence service had failed to resume the function of it, the report added.

Suspected ISI spy arrested in Meerut

Jan 11, 2009
Lucknow The Uttar Pradesh STF on Saturday arrested a youth allegedly spying for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The spy, Amir Ahmed alias Bhura, caught from the Company Bagh area of Meerut district, was given the task of collecting information from various Army establishments at Meerut, Agra, Dehradun, Roorkee, Ambala and Chandigarh.

The police have recovered handmade maps of Dehradun and Meerut cantonments, documents containing details of weapons and the cellphone, which he was using to contact ISI officers.

Additional SP STF, Rahul Raj, who led the operation, said Amir (24) a native of Saharanpur district, had been in constant touch with Karachi-based ISI officer Farookh alias Tayyab since 2007.

The youth had last visited Karachi in 2008 and undergone extensive training in collecting intelligence about the Indian Army. Amir was on the ISI payroll, Rahul Raj said.

The ASP also said that Amir had first visited Pakistan after he got a passport from the Bareilly Passport Office in 1998. He had mentioned his name as Bhura Ahmed in the passport in which he has given his genuine address.

The passport was yet to be recovered by the police. He has been to Pakistan five times since, on the pretext of visiting his sister in Karachi. He had come in contact of an ISI agent Wasim in 2007 who had introduced him to Tayyab, said the ASP.

“Amir has confessed that the ISI officials had asked him to mingle with the Indian Army officers and ‘oblige’ them with all ‘facilities’ they needed. The Army intelligence officials have been informed and they too would be probing the matter. He was being provided with hefty sums by ISI, through hawala for the purpose,” said Raj.

Famous indian spy cases

* Coomar Narain case On January 17, 1985, the police arrested Coomar Narain, regional manager of a firm supplying marine engines in collaboration with European companies. An ex-employee of the department of economic affairs, he used contacts there to get information.

* Samba case Between August 24, 1978 and January 23, 1979, 50-odd persons who had worked in the 168 Infantry Brigade at Samba were arrested for spying for Pakistan at the instance of two self-confessed Pakistani spies who worked as gunners in the Indian Army — Sarwan Dass, Aya Singh. In December 1994, Dass admitted he had falsely implicated the men.

* ISRO case Two Maldivian women spied on India’s space secrets on behalf of the ISI. A whole bunch of Indian scientists, police and defence officials were selling out for their money and charms.

* Subba Row case A naval scientist, he was arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle secrets on the Indian submarine project out to the West.

* Larkins brothers case On November 18, 1983, FD Larkins was caught passing military documents to an American. KH Larkins was arrested the next day. Lt-Colonel (retired) Jasbir Singh and arms dealer Jaspal Singh Gill faced similar charges. Later, the High Court acquitted Gill and Singh.

Friday, 9 January, 2009

Hackles in spy circles over selection of Panetta as CIA chief

By Philip Klein
September 9.09
Barack Obama's choice of Leon Panetta, the former congressman who went on to serve as chief of staff for President Clinton, to head the Central Intelligence Agency has members of the intelligence community scratching their heads.

To defenders of the choice, Panetta's reputation as a competent manager and loyalty to Obama may help to shake up the agency and keep it from undermining the White House. But several ex-CIA officials contacted by TAS greeted the pick with trepidation.

"Everybody is shocked and concerned about his lack of any intelligence experience," a former senior officer at the CIA told TAS, asking that his name be withheld because he still does some work with the agency. "What kind of signal is this sending?"

One fear the ex-official raised is that the pick is an indication that Obama, like President Clinton before him, does not have much of an interest in intelligence. Another possibility is that Panetta can be a repeat of the failed tenures of Stansfield Turner under Jimmy Carter and John Deutch under Clinton -- both of whom
were outsiders brought in to reform the agency.

Initially, John Brennan, who had a strong intelligence background, was seen as the leading candidate to head the agency under Obama, but he withdrew his name from consideration after coming under fire from liberals, who associated him with Bush administration detention and interrogation policies. Panetta has been a fierce critic of such practices.

To skeptics, the fact that interrogation policy played such a crucial role in the selection process indicates that the incoming administration may not understand the broader scope of the agency's responsibilities.

"People think the left-wing bloggers are running the asylum now," the ex-CIA official lamented. "They want to completely neuter the agency."
However, he noted that if Stephen Kappes were to remain as deputy director to run the day-to-day functions of the agency, it would be a reassuring signal to the rank and file.

An additional source of confusion resulting from the appointment is what Panetta's role would be relative to retired Admiral Dennis Blair, who has been chosen as director of national intelligence, a position created in the wake of the September 11attack to oversee all intelligence agencies.

"When he was chief of staff, Panetta was the gate keeper who controlled the president's schedule," explained another former CIA official. "I find it very difficult to believe that he would be at ease reporting to or through Admiral Blair. Who's in charge? Is the director of the CIA in charge of the final product that reaches the president? Or is the Office of National Intelligence?"

To this former official, the nation would have been better served if Obama had appointed somebody who had CIA field experience, who understood the institutional culture, and who is apolitical, rather than a Democratic Party loyalist who may only tell the president what he wants to hear.

In contrast, Ken deGraffenreid, who was a senior intelligence official in the Reagan White House and also at the Department of Defense during the current Bush administration, presented a critical assessment of the state of the CIA.

A significant portion of his workload at the Pentagon involved trying to undo many of the things the CIA did to weaken the Bush administration, deGraffenreid said, including leaking intelligence reports to the media that undermined the administration's foreign policy. This is how deGraffenreid sees the Panetta move making sense for Obama.

"If you put a loyalist in there who runs things, maybe he is in a position to block some of the shenanigans that the CIA pulls," he said. "Panetta is probably a good political move from the perspective of protecting Obama's rear end."
According to deGraffenreid, those in the CIA have lost sight of the fact that they're not supposed to craft foreign policy.

"They're out of constitutional control and they've become incompetent at their basic function of getting secrets," he said. "If the criticism of Panetta is that he does not have intelligence experience, my answer is, so what? Let's get down to brass tacks. Does he know what's wrong and is he going to bring that agency under constitutional control?"

While politically speaking it may prove a savvy decision for Obama to have Panetta at the CIA, he said that it's unclear if either the president-elect or his choice to head the agency understands that "it's a Herculean task to do what needs to be done for American intelligence."

"It's unclear to me whether Obama understands the degree to which we need intelligence in this world, because he's mostly a domestic guy," deGraffenreid said. "From the campaign it didn't seem that he had a very realistic understanding of the dangers in this world."

Thursday, 8 January, 2009

Man Claims Bugged Teddy Bear Was Ex-Wife's Spy

By Russell Goldman

Jan. 8, 2009

A Nebraska man is suing his ex-wife for violating his privacy after she allegedly bugged their 5-year-old daughter's teddy bear to record his conversations. An Omaha man is suing his ex-wife in federal court, alleging that she, or someone working on her behalf, planted a listening device in their daughter's ever-present teddy bear to gain information to use against him in an ongoing custody dispute.

William "Duke" Lewton, 36, and several acquaintances who claim they were recorded by the bear are suing Lewton's ex-wife Dianna Divingnzzo, her father and her former lawyer for allegedly recording conversations without their consent.

Their daughter Ellanna is 5 years old, and the couple has been involved in a custody dispute for four-and-a-half of those years. Lewton first learned of the allegedly bugged bear when a judge reviewed notes between Divingnzzo and a court-appointed therapist, in which the girl's mother said recordings were made.

When the judge learned of the recordings, he informed both parties' lawyers, letting Divingnzzo know the information was inadmissible in court, prompting Lewton to file a civil case. According to the complaint, Sarpy County District Judge David Arterburn informed the parties that under Nebraska law, at least one person in a conversation must consent to being recorded.

No criminal charges have been filed against Divingnzzo or her father."[Divingnzzo] somehow found a way to get a bugging device and installed it in my daughter's teddy bear," Lewton told "Every time my daughter came to stay with me, I was being recorded. She had been listening for six months.

"Every intimate conversation was being listened to by my ex-spouse. It was invasive and intrusive. I'm living in a state of paranoia," he said. The bear, named Little Bear, was, according to Lewton, little more than a bear head with a 2-foot-square blanket attached. He said he bought it for Ellanna several years ago at a JCPenney.

Lewton said he never saw the listening device or heard the recordings, but according to the complaint, his former father-in-law Sam Divingnzzo, whom Lewton is also suing, converted the conversations on CD and then transcribed them. According to Lewton, the recordings contain hours of conversations recorded from December 2007 to May 2008 with his fiancée, neighbor, friends and relatives, six of whom are named as co-plaintiffs in the complaint.

The lawyer for Dianna Divingnzzo acknowledged the recordings exist but said it remained up to a jury to determine who bugged the bear and whether any crime had been committed. Kelly Shattuck, who did not represent Divingnzzo during the custody hearings, said, "It is unknown who planted the device.

"I don't know who planted the device, if it was Dianna, or her father or someone else," said Shattuck. "The real question is what was the rationale behind wanting to record those conversations." According to Shattuck, Lewton lost custody of his daughter more than four years ago and until recently did not seek regular contact. The lawyer said the recordings were "tantamount to a parent who records a day care provider using closed circuit televisions," so-called nanny cams.

"Yes, such recording may violate someone's wish to be private, but sometimes there is an overriding interest to protect a minor child," he said. "The simple fact is that whoever made these recordings had a rationale for doing so. Despite what told the media, there is clear evidence that he wasn't a perfect dad."

In October, a judge ordered the couple to share joint physical custody of the girl. Divingnzzo recently filed a motion to move with Ellenna to another state, which is why Lewton said he decided to sue.