Wednesday, 11 March, 2009

Dye another gray: UK spies getting older

LONDON (AP) — When 007 hits 65, should he be deep-sixed?
No, say British intelligence chiefs, who want their older officers to keep working, even if it means Her Majesty's secret service has spies who hobble in from the cold.

Lawmakers disclosed Thursday that veteran intelligence operatives are being asked to keep working after their usual retirement date to tackle an unrelenting threat from terrorism.

Britain's veteran spies — like all senior government staff — must step down at the age of 65, according to government policy — but are instead being kept in their posts as exceptions to the rule.

In testimony to lawmakers published in a new report, the head of Britain's overseas intelligence agency MI6, John Scarlett, said the knowledge and skills of veterans is crucial to his agency's work.

"We need their experience. ... Having retirement age as your major mechanism for moving people in and out of senior levels is not a good ideal," Scarlett told Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee in a hearing last year.

The committee of lawmakers takes evidence in closed-door sessions and releases partial accounts of the meetings. The panel's latest report was released publicly Thursday.

Authors of the report said most staff of MI6 — or the Secret Intelligence Service — still leave their posts at 65 but exceptions are being made for senior officers. The report redacted evidence in which Scarlett told lawmakers the exact age of his oldest intelligence staff.

"This is the second successive year that the committee has raised concerns regarding the Secret Intelligence Service's policy on retirement age," the report said. "We remain concerned that the service's policy still does not seem fully to meet its business requirements. This should be dealt with as a matter of urgency."

MI6, like Britain's domestic spy agency MI5, has undergone a huge recruitment drive since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., and the July 2005 transit network bombings in London.

In their report, committee members said Britain faces an unprecedented threat from terrorism.

"Al-Qaida and related terrorist groups have shown an exceptional level of ambition and willingness to carry out indiscriminate terrorist attacks, and the threat they pose is likely to persist for a considerable time," the report states.

In response to the committee's report, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's office said a government review will decide in the next few months whether to allow the service to continue employing spies past their 65th birthdays.

Britain's Cabinet Office said a mandatory retirement age of 65 is supposed to apply to all top-ranking civil servants, without exceptions.

Patrick Mercer, a lawmaker and former soldier who worked in military intelligence, said an exception must be made for senior spies.

"It's vital that people with that level of expertise are kept within the services, I don't think we should be pensioning off that amount of skill and wisdom," he said.

British pair charged in 'industrial espionage' row

March 9, 2009
David Brown
A leading British manufacturer has been caught up in an industrial espionage row after two engineers used a mobile telephone to photograph a secret piece of equipment at an American factory.

The photographs are alleged to have been used by Wyko Tire Technology in Dudley, West Midlands, to manufacturer a specialist tyre machine for a Chinese company.

Engineers Clark Roberts and Sean Howley are alleged to have tricked their way into the Goodyear factory in Kansas to take seven photographs of machinery used make large “off the road” tyres for earth moving equipment, it is claimed.

The pictures were emailed to two Wyko employees at the factory in Britain and were used to manufacturer a similar piece of equipment for the Haohau South China Guilin Rubber Company based in north east China. The contract with the Chinese company was worth $1.2million.

Ireland: Boston Scientific denies espionage will hit Irish plant
Mr Roberts, 46, and Mr Howley, 38 - both employees of Wyko Tire Technology Inc in Greenback, Tennessee - have been charged with 12 offences relating to the theft of trade secrets and wire fraud. They face a maximum sentence of 150 years in prison and a fine of $2.75million (£2million).

The US Department of Justice claims the two engineers tricked their way into the Goodyear factory in Topeka in May 2007. Mr Howley is alleged to have taken the pictures while his colleague acted as “look out for Goodyear employees”.

The US Department of Justice said that both men have denied the charges and are due to stand trial in May in Knoxville, Tennessee, following the investigation by the FBI.

Wyko Tires is part of Wyko Group, one of Britain’s largest suppliers of engineering components. Wyko was bought by Eriks for £139milion in November 2006 and is being rebranded under the Dutch company’s name. Eriks was unavailable for comment.


Spies get professional training from actors

Monday, 09 March 2009
KR News
Intelligence service operatives are being given hands-on training from actors to prepare them for foreign missions

Students with the Danish Defence Intelligence Service (FE) have been receiving tips and instruction from trained actors according to Finn Hansen, the new FE Director.

While the FE does not have the same visibility and high profile of its domestic counterpart, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET), Hansen opened up to Politiken newspaper about some of the more unusual methods employed by his foreign and military intelligence service.

Hansen said that spies, or the preferred term of intelligence gatherers, often complete their tasks through electronic surveillance or via open sources, but sometimes it is necessary for them to travel undercover in Europe, Africa or Asia.
As a result, FE employs trained actors to educate operatives in how to feel at home in different situations and create trust with their sources in order to obtain vital information.

‘The intelligence gatherers have to live in a role and we think that actors have the necessary practical expertise to show our intelligence gatherers how to communicate information. We do everything we can to minimise the risk to our intelligence agents and we have never lost a person in the service,’ said Hansen.

Jens Arentzen has taught acting for more than 20 years, and while not connected with FE, he said he can understand why the intelligence service would employ actors.

‘There are many professions, where it’s simply not enough to read a book or manual; where you must be tested in realistic environments,’ said Arentzen. ‘A pilot can neither fly nor land without first having used a simulator. In the same way, it’s sensible that spies practice in advance as to how they will act when they are standing alone in Beirut.’


Pak spy sentenced to seven-year jail

Chandigarh (IANS): A Pakistani national was sentenced to seven years' rigorous imprisonment after an Indian court convicted him for spying.

The court here also slapped a fine of Rs.14,000 on Abid Mehmood.

The 27-year-old was arrested from Sector-34 of Chandigarh in February 2003. Abdul Wahid, an Indian national accompanying him at that time, was also arrested.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Kanchan Mahi sentenced Wahid to seven-year jail and to pay a fine of Rs.4,000.

Mehmood is from Liakatpur district in Pakistan, and lived there with his parents and elder brother, said a police official.

According to the police, Mehmood lived in Chandigarh, posing as Nihal Chauhan and claiming to be a native of Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. The police recovered a fake voter identity card, bogus sports certificates and a digital camera from him.

"The police also recovered documents and maps containing information about infantry battalions, armoured units, artillery regiments and other sensitive information regarding the military deployment and air defence regiments in the country," the public prosecutor told the court.

Initially, Mehmood said he was a software engineer and he had gone to Nepal before returning to India. Later, however, he confessed before the police that he had secret documents related to India's defence.

Monday, 9 March, 2009

Calif. case highlights FBI's use of mosque spies

Muslim-American organizations demand inquiry after informant exposed
March 6:Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright joins the Morning Joe gang to evaluate Hillary Clinton's early performances as the top U.S. diplomat.

SANTA ANA, California - The revelation that the FBI planted a spy in a Southern California mosque was explosive news in a Muslim community that has long suspected the government of even broader surveillance.

Muslim-American organizations have demanded an inquiry. Some say the news has rattled their faith in American democracy.

Despite the reaction, former FBI agents and federal prosecutors say spying on mosques is still one of the government's best weapons to thwart terrorists and that the benefit to national security is likely to far outweigh any embarrassment to the agency.

"What matters to the FBI is preventing a massive attack that might be planned by some people ... using the mosque or church as a shield because they believe they're safe there," said Robert Blitzer, the FBI's former counterterrorism chief.

"That is what the American people want the FBI to do," he said. "They don't want some type of attack happening on U.S. soil because the FBI didn't act on information."

One of the most-heralded U.S. terrorism convictions, for example, grew out of the work of an informant who spent months inside a New Jersey mosque and derailed a plan to blow up New York City landmarks. Radical Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman was sentenced to life in prison in 1995. He was also the spiritual leader for the men convicted in the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center.

"A lot of what happened was planned in the mosque," said Andy McCarthy, who was lead prosecutor on the case. "The recruiting went on in the mosque, a lot of the instruction went on in the mosque, we even had gun transactions in there."

California case comes to light
In the California case, information about the informant who spied on the Islamic Center of Irvine came out last week at a detention hearing for a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden's bodyguard, an Afghan native and naturalized U.S. citizen named Ahmadullah Niazi.

Niazi, 34, was arrested Feb. 20 on charges of lying about his ties to terrorist groups on his citizenship and passport applications. He will be arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana.

FBI Special Agent Thomas J. Ropel III testified at the hearing that an FBI informant infiltrated Niazi's mosque and several others in Orange County and befriended Niazi. Ropel said the informant recorded Niazi on multiple occasions talking about blowing up buildings, acquiring weapons and sending money to the Afghan mujahadeen.

Niazi has not been charged with terrorism and it's not yet clear if the FBI was focused on anything beyond his activities. Neither the mosque nor any other of its members have been charged.

A 46-year-old fitness instructor told The Associated Press last week he was the informant. Craig Monteilh of Irvine said Niazi talked about blowing up buildings and discussed sending Monteilh to a terrorist training camp in Yemen or Pakistan.

Monteilh said his tenure as an informant ended after Niazi and other members of the Islamic Center of Irvine reported him to authorities. A Muslim advocacy group has demanded a federal investigation into whether Niazi was arrested because he refused to become an FBI informant after telling the agency about Monteilh.

Muslim leaders suspected infiltration
Local Muslim leaders say they had suspected since at least 2006 that the FBI was trying to infiltrate the Islamic Center and other Muslim organizations.

Some community leaders, worried that they were being watched, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI in 2006 seeking surveillance records on themselves. They are still engaged in litigation over the request, said Shakeel Syed, executive of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.

"We suspected this was happening," said Syed, who suspects his home and office phones are wired. "What these guys have done is create an environment where every person begins to suspect the other and with the infighting and inward suspicion, the community becomes it's own victim."

A spokeswoman for the FBI's Los Angeles bureau, Lourdes Arocho, had no comment.

Former FBI agents, however, said that although the law places almost no constraints on the use of informants, the agency takes sending an informant into a mosque very seriously and imposes a higher threshold for such requests.

Agents would have to have credible and specific information about criminal activity inside a mosque or being committed by a mosque member before sending a plant in, said Steven Pomerantz, former assistant director and chief of counter terrorism for the FBI.

Such a request would also be approved by the highest-ranking agency officials, former agents said.

"You just wouldn't go sending informants willy nilly into mosques just to determine what was going on," Pomerantz said. "You have to have some articulable reason or basis to do that."

Taliban kill Pakistan US 'spy': security official

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) — Taliban militants shot dead a man in Pakistan's restive northwest tribal belt after filming him confessing to spying for the United States, an official said Monday.

The bullet-ridden body of local tribesman Tahir Khan was found dumped on Monday in a bazaar in Wana, the main town in the semi-autonomous South Waziristan tribal region, a notorious hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants.

"Khan, who was kidnapped 10 days ago, had multiple bullet wounds on his body," a security official told AFP.

A DVD found with the body showed Khan confessing to spying and passing on information that led to a series of US missile attacks in the region.

A note found on the body said: "All those spying for the US will suffer the same fate," according to the official.

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 Pakistani tribal regions, where security forces are battling Islamist militants, have become a safe haven for Islamist militants.

Foreign spies killed border guard officers: Khaleda Zia

6 Mar 2009 (Times of India)
DHAKA: Bangladesh's former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has alleged that "foreign spies hired from outside" killed the officers and their family
members during the mutiny by Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) troopers.

She said: "I don't believe any Bangladeshis were involved in this killing. The killers were hired from outside and entered the Pilkhana headquarters in BDR uniform."

Addressing a mourning procession organised to pay homage to the killed officers on Thursday, she demanded to know if any of the spies were from "within the present government".

Political analysts said this was a new twist to the Sheikh Hasina government's conspiracy charge and the role of "vested interest", amidst speculation that the mutiny could have been triggered by the government's move to try those involved in "war crimes" during the 1971 freedom movement.

The government is perceived to be targeting top leadership of Jamaat-e-Islami, an ally that shared power with Zia during 2001-06.

The new BDR chief, brigadier general Mohammed Mainul Islam, on Tuesday cited video footage of the mutiny to say "outsiders" wearing BDR uniform had taken the lead in the killing of nearly a hundred officers February 25-26.

The investigations into the two-day insurrection have yielded some clues, media reports said on Friday citing officials, but not naming them.

Citing telephone records of some suspects, the investigators said the February 25 massacre might have been planned "at least two months back", The Daily Star said.

The officials claimed to have gathered and studied last two months' phone records of the suspects.

The move could have been triggered by the new government taking office on January 6.

"Most likely the networking between them had begun much before that. Further investigation will shed light on that," said a high official of a law enforcement agency, requesting anonymity.

The government has held six leaders of the mutiny - all of them non-commissioned officers of the BDR. They have been remanded to custody on court orders and were being interrogated.

Twenty-two more BDR troopers were charged on Thursday, while search teams seized more arms and ammunition from inside the BDR headquarters at Pilkhana in the outskirts of the national capital.

However, there is no clear picture of the total number of the casualties and the extent of pilferage of arms and ammunition during the BDR rebellion, New Age newspaper said.

Chinese spies infiltrating US businesses

February 28, 2009
Jim Kouri
The almost legendary MI5 British counterintelligence service is said to be deeply concerned over an increase in spying by Chinese operatives in the United Kingdom. Although intelligence experts aren’t certain how widespread the problem is, they believe the espionage is rampant and a serious consequence of the global economy.

MI5 suspects upwards of 15 foreign intelligence services are working within the UK and are a threat to the United Kingdom’s interests, and the primary focus of their counterespionage efforts are the Chinese and Russians.

In the United States, the FBI is suspicious of Russia, Iran, and North Korea but have focused mostly on the Chinese. The feds estimate that the are over 2,600 Chinese front companies in the US.

The foreign intelligence threat within the United States is far more complex than it has ever been historically. The threat is increasingly asymmetrical insofar as it comes not only from traditional foreign intelligence services but also from nontraditional, non-state actors who operate from decentralized organizations.

Intelligence collection is no longer limited to classified national defense information but now includes targeting of the elements of national power, including our national economic interests. Moreover, foreign intelligence tradecraft is increasingly sophisticated and takes full advantage of advances in communications security and the general openness of US society.

In short, the foreign intelligence threat is more challenging than ever. In the fall of 2003, the Foreign Counterintelligence Program had investigations involving dozens of countries that focused on hundreds of known or suspected intelligence officers who were assigned to enter or travel within the United States. These investigations spanned all 56 field offices.

In order to meet these challenges, the Foreign Counterintelligence Program is being redesigned to become more nationally focused and directed. Through a more centralized program, the FBI will ensure its ability to establish priorities, be more proactive, and better engage other intelligence community agencies so that cooperation in important cases is immediate and seamless.

A centralized program will also ensure that infrastructure issues will be consistently addressed and coordinated in order to ensure workforce expertise, that staffing matches the articulated foreign intelligence threat, and that a sufficiently broad and reliable intelligence base is developed. From this foundation, the Foreign Counterintelligence Program will be positioned to achieve its strategic objectives and ultimately reach its goal to prevent harm to the United States through foreign intelligence activity inimical to US interests.

During the past year, the Foreign Counterintelligence Program has been invigorated by the introduction of a new and innovative National Strategy for Counterintelligence and a program plan, both of which are proactive in emphasis. At the same time, additional resources were introduced to the program. To enhance counterintelligence workforce expertise, a new four-week Counterintelligence Operations course was developed.

All special agents assigned to the Counterintelligence Program are required to successfully complete this course. Computer-based distance learning courses are also available to all personnel on a variety of counterintelligence topics. A counterintelligence training course for midlevel and executive managers was also initiated, covering topics in both the tactical and strategic areas of counterintelligence management.

The FBI plays an essential role in the US government’s counterintelligence efforts and has the responsibility to produce domestic foreign intelligence in support of other members of the intelligence community.

The FBI also has the responsibility to oversee the integration of domestic law enforcement and intelligence efforts to address intelligence threats in support of Director of Central Intelligence imperatives. The counterintelligence strategy involves centrally managed, proactive, and nationally directed initiatives, with prioritized and strategic objectives that support DCI imperatives, overseen by experienced headquarters managers.

Success for the Foreign Counterintelligence Program will be reflected in the extent to which the FBI agents are able to: identify the objectives, the assets, and the operations of foreign intelligence services operating in the United States; disrupt the operations of those foreign intelligence services; and change the behavior of targeted institutions and individuals to minimize opportunities for their exploitation.

Government support of critical national research and development initiatives in a large number of agencies and involving thousands of government contractors must be protected. Compromise of these initiatives by those hostile to the United States would do irreparable harm. The FBI must effectively meet its responsibility to assess the threat against those projects and, with other Intelligence Community agencies, initiate operations to counter the threat.

Critical National Assets are any information, policies, plans, technologies, or industries that, if stolen, modified, or manipulated by an adversary would seriously threaten US national or economic security. The FBI has a major role in identifying threats to Critical National Assets and assessing their overall vulnerability, especially in the areas of economic espionage, academic research, and private sector research and development.

As the remaining world superpower, the United States is targeted from nearly every corner of the globe. The FBI will focus its counterintelligence resources on those countries and non-state actors having the greatest potential to harm US interests, and will work to gain a greater understanding of the threats they pose. Specifically, the FBI will examine threats related to terrorism, espionage, weapons proliferation, national infrastructure, US government perception management, and foreign intelligence activities.

source (

Tuesday, 3 March, 2009

Israeli Arab accused of planning to spy for Hezbollah

Israeli Arab accused of planning to spy for Hezbollah

By Eli Ashkenazi

An Israeli citizen suspected of being a prospective Hezbollah spy was indicted yesterday on charges of contact with a foreign agent.

Ismail Saleiman, a 27-year-old man from the Jezreel Valley town of Hajajra, is suspected of being in contact with a Hezbollah operative and planning to spy on Israel for the terror group. Advertisement

Police and the Shin Bet security service arrested him February 5, but the incident was placed under gag order until yesterday, when Saleiman was indicted in the Nazareth District Court.

Saleiman's lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, said yesterday her client never had any intention of causing damage to Israel's security.

"The person from Hezbollah initiated contact with him when he was in Mecca and pestered him," she said. "The main story here is how Hezbollah is tripping up Israeli Arabs who travel to Islamic holy sites."

Saleiman had been due to begin collecting information for Hezbollah about military bases in Israel five months after his return to the country, as long as his ties to the group were not exposed by then, according to an arrangement the indictment states Saleiman reached with a Hezbollah representative known as Abu Qassam.

According to the indictment, Saleiman agreed to work for Hezbollah during a meeting with Abu Qassam in Saudi Arabia, while Saleiman was on pilgrimage to Mecca about six months ago. The charge sheet states that Abu Qassam came up to Saleiman and his friends and asked them if they were from Israel. The same day, he allegedly arranged a meeting with Saleiman, during which he recruited him after asking about the suspect's religious beliefs, attitude toward the Second Lebanon War and ability to collect information in Israel.

Saleiman is accused of giving Abu Qassam, who said he was a Palestinian living in Lebanon, his phone number and e-mail address, and the two allegedly agreed that they would exchange only seemingly innocent emails.

However, Saleiman did not reply to three e-mails Abu Qassam sent, initiating contact only in the wake of the war in Gaza, the indictment states. At the time of Saleiman's arrest, Abu Qassam had not responded to the e-mail.

Ben-Natan emphasized that Saleiman is charged only with contact with a foreign agent, and added that the indictment "notes that the agent attempted to initiate contact with [Saleiman] several times, and the accused did not respond."