Category Archive 'Covert Actions'
15 Mar 2010
The New York Times is reporting, in duly scandalized tone, on the basis of information received from “military officials and businessmen in Afghanistan and the United States” that the US government was getting around the Pakistani ban on US military operations withing that country’s borders by using a private contracting company employing retired CIA officers and Special Forces military personnel to locate militants and insurgent bases of operation.
Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazetti breathlessly suggest that these contractors are being used to target Predator drone attacks, and that all this is very possibly “a rogue operation” breaking some unspecified alleged law against the use of private contractors in covert operations. On top of which, why, funding for all this was probably improperly diverted from an Internet website intended to inform the US military about “Afghanistan’s social and tribal landscape.”
We have here a classic example of the damaging leak by disgruntled insiders. Details about a covert operation are made public, the covert activity is (surprise! surprise!) disclosed to have been going on in secret, the public is advised in shocked tones that persons working for the US government have been quietly engaged in doing harm to enemies of the United States, the covert operation in question is darkly hinted to transgress some unspecified and unidentified federal intelligence statute and/or international law, and finally the secret mission is accused of diverting funding from its own cover.
Even under Obama, it appears that American Intelligence Operations policy will continue to be decided by press leaks and disinformation.
21 Feb 2010
Al-Mabhouh approaches his room, a couple of tennis players just behind him.
Spite and malice time.
What do you do when a foreign intelligence service breezes into your capital, takes out a Hamas arms procurer, and disappears, leaving you with egg all over your face? If you are the security service of Dubai, you leak as many of the after the fact details of identities and tradecraft as you can to the international press. If you can’t stop them and you can’t catch them, at least, you can spill everything you know.
The Daily Mail, as the result, is able to publish the answers to the game of Clue being played by an amused international audience.
The hit squad behind the assassination of a Hamas commander in a Dubai hotel tried to make his death look like an accident by electrocuting him with a bedside lamp.
Police sources said the killers, who used fake British passports, tried to ‘induce the effects of a heart attack’ before smothering Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh with a pillow in his room.
It is understood that the lamp was taken apart and the wiring attached to a device that pulsed electricity into his body. ...
[T]he fake British passports used by the killers had been secretly copied by Tel Aviv airport immigration officials.
The Israeli ambassador to London has been accused of ‘stonewalling’ all attempts to find out how the killers had the passports.
But the Foreign Office has been told that all six of the genuine passport holders – all residents in Israel – had their documents briefly taken away at the airport during routine checks.
The London Times speculates that Meir Dagan’s job as head of Mossad may be in jeopardy as the result of the indignation of Western governments over the forged passports.
All the publicity is doubtless inconvenient, and Mossad will inevitably be obliged to lie low for a bit, avoiding the kind of Black Operations that would fuel the continuation of the Shocked, Shocked! meme, but in the long run a reputation for ruthlessness combined with competence, daring, and efficiency will not really do the state of Israel’s intelligence service much harm.
19 Feb 2010
The Jerusalem Post is defiantly sarcastic in its response to indignation over the presumptive Mossad use of forged passports.
The pigheaded refusal to acknowledge that sometimes the ends justify the means reflects Europe’s moral impoverishment.
Dahu Khalfan Tamim now has a world-class reputation for detective work. The head of the Dubai police swiftly determined that Hamas’s Mahmoud Mabhouh did not die of natural causes at the five-star Bustan Rotana Hotel on Jan. 20. He was assassinated.
Let’s for the sake of argument grant that Israel did away with Mabhouh; that he was not killed by Iran or over some intra-Palestinian dispute, and that clues pointing to Israeli culpability are genuine.
Mabhouh certainly deserved to be assassinated by Israel. Hamas declared war on Israel. And he co-founded its military wing and was personally involved in the (separate) 1989 killings of IDF soldiers Ilan Sa’adon and Avi Sasportas.
Mabhouh was a key link in the unlawful syndicate which delivers Iranian weapons to Gaza. He was apparently tasked with importing an arsenal that would make life hellish for Israelis living in metropolitan Tel Aviv. He was, perhaps, Hamas’s equivalent to Hizbullah’s Imad Mughniyeh, whose car blew up in Damascus two years ago.
You can tell a great deal about the moral compass and political leanings of a society by observing its reaction to the Mabhouh liquidation.
There is unease in Europe because the purported assassins identified by Dubai were travelling under forged French, German, Irish and British passports; and identities of Israelis with dual-citizenship were utilized.
Even The Times of London, whose editorial page has been sympathetic toward Israel, expressed chagrin over the affair, saying this country had shown poor regard for the “future security of British passport holders overseas.” Frankly, there is little reason to think that the tradecraft employed in this assassination – which we will not second guess at this stage – jeopardizes anyone.
Actually, what troubles us is the question of whose passport Mabhouh was traveling under and why he was allowed to enter neutral Dubai on gun-running business.
Of course, that’s not how the British see it. The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen warned that if Israel had used British passports for “nefarious” purposes – meaning sending Mabhouh to his Maker – Bowen expected, or would it be more accurate to say, hoped for, “a crisis” in relations betweenLondon and Jerusalem.
The Guardian quoted a Foreign Office mandarin as gloating: “Relations were in the freezer before this. They are in the deep freeze now.” The paper then grumbled about the British government’s “supine” response to the assassination, editorializing against the government’s proposal to lift the threat of lawfare. The Guardian wants visiting Israeli ministers to continue to worry about facing Palestinian-inspired “war crimes” charges.
With the British media delighting in the assassination-passport kerfuffle – a Daily Mail headline screamed: “Dragged into a Mossad murder plot” – Menzies Campell, a routinely anti-Israel elder of the Liberal Democrats, declared that “Israel has some explaining to do.”
An anyway beleaguered Prime Minister Gordon Brown intoned: “We have got to carry out a full investigation into this. The British passport is an important document that has got to be held with care.” Sentiments echoed by Opposition Leader David Cameron. ...
Perhaps the shrill reaction in some (though certainly not all) British quarters is not rooted purely in anti-Israelism. Chances are that at least parts of the British intelligentsia and media would have reacted similarly if the man in that hotel room had been Osama bin Laden… or Adolf Eichmann.
One has to admire especially the delightfullly humorous, cat-ate-the-canary “Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Israel did away with Mabhouh” line. I bet that champagne corks are popping still in secluded rest and recreation facilities used by Mossad operatives obliged by circumstances to remain in hiding and out of the public eye.
Of course, the Jerusalem Post is perfectly correct. The British and European press ought to be editorializing piously about how naughty people who traffic in weapons used to attack innocent civilians need to expect to come to premature ends at the hands of persons unknown, instead of striking poses of feigned indignation over the profaned sanctity of travel identification documents.
18 Feb 2010
That Skull and Bones balloting box was not actually sold. Apparently, Christie’s withdrew it from the sale late last month, IvyGate reports, after receiving a mysterious “title claim.” The Russell Trust has plenty of lawyers.
Hot Air (one of the most important conservative blogs) has been sold to Salem Communications. Congratulations and good luck.
As part of the Carnival celebration, preceding the beginning of Lent, in the Spanish village of Laza, “Peliqueiros” or ancient tax collectors, are portrayed wearing warning cowbells and prepared to beat the villagers with sticks. 39 Carnival photos.
Stratfor: Tradecraft in Dubai Assassination
24 Oct 2009
The third time is enemy action, asserts the old Intelligence Community saying.
A British nuclear expert taking part in disarmament talks with Iran has died in mysterious circumstances at a UN building in Austria.
Timothy Hampton, 47, plunged to his death from the 17th floor and was found in a stairwell just hours before high-level discussions were due to resume in Vienna.
Investigators said they have not ruled out murder or suicide, but local sources said no suicide note was found.
Police are also investigating the death of another Brit who fell from the same building four months ago.
The third such incident will be very hard to take for just another accident.
07 Sep 2009
Mystery of the Arctic Sea, 8/20
The Telegraph reports Intelligence leaks indicating that the hijacking was done by Mossad (not a peep from Debkafile!) and was done to prevent an unauthorized shipment of advanced Russian air defense missiles from reaching Iran.
Mystery has surrounded the ship, officially carrying a cargo of timber worth £1.3 million from Finland to Algeria, since its crew first reported a boarding in Swedish waters on July 24 after a raid by 10 armed English-speaking men posing as anti-narcotics police officers.
It was eventually recovered off the coast of west Africa on August 17. Russia has since charged eight men from Estonia, Latvia and Russia with kidnapping and piracy.
Russian officials have said the alleged pirates demanded a $1.5 million ransom but speculation has grown that the freighter was carrying contraband cargo.
Israeli and Russian security sources have questioned The Kremlin’s official explanation, instead arguing that the ship was carrying S-300 missiles, Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft weapon, while undergoing repairs in the Russian port of Kaliningrad, a notorious Baltic smuggling base.
According to reports, Mossad is said to have briefed the Russian government that the shipment had been sold by former military officers linked to the black market, and Russia then dispatched a naval rescue mission. Those who believe Mossad was involved point to a visit to Moscow by Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, the day after the Arctic Sea was recovered.
Crew members of the Arctic Sea have since told Russian news reporters that they have been told not to disclose “state secrets” further fuelling the speculation.
A Russian military source told The Sunday Times: “The official version is ridiculous and was given to allow the Kremlin to save face.
“I’ve spoken to people close to the investigation and they’ve pretty much confirmed Mossad’s involvement. It’s laughable to believe all this fuss was over a load of timber. I’m not alone in believing that it was carrying weapons to Iran.”
Russian news agency RT News (Moscow) has the same story on this 4:42 video
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