SPY NEWS

Singapore Air Force deploys its fighter jets and spy plane to Guam

The 36th Wing Public Affairs reported that The Republic of Singapore Air Force deployed airmen, F-16 fighters, F-15SG fighters and a G550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, May 24, 2021. This deployment provides bilateral training for aircrew and maintenance personnel to enhance interoperability and cultivate regional partnerships. “We welcome the […] […]

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Ex-British spy, Erik Prince, and Project Veritas reportedly tried to entrap Trump's national security adviser

Erik Prince, founder of private security contractor Blackwater and brother of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, recruited a former British spy in 2016 to professionalize the undercover operatives at Project Veritas, the conservative sting video shop run by James O’Keefe, The New York Times reports, citing documents and people involved in the subsequent operations to discredit perceived “deep state” enemies of former President Donald Trump inside the U.S. government. The ex-undercover British spy, Richard Seddon, trained conservative operatives first at the Prince family ranch in Wyoming, then at a large, $10,000-a-month house near Georgetown University. Female undercover operatives tried to entrap FBI agents, sometimes using fake dating app profiles, and State Department employees, the Times reports. But “one of the most brazen operations of the campaign” was an attempt to take down H.R. McMaster, Trump’s second national security adviser. The plan was reportedly to send a female operative to Tosca, a restaurant McMaster frequented, to engage him in drinks and conversation and record him disparaging Trump or making other inappropriate remarks on camera. One of the people involved in the McMaster plot was Barbara Ledeen, a longtime Republican staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee before retiring, she says, earlier this year. Presented with the details of the operation, Ledeen told the Times she was just a messenger, “not part of a plot.” Ledeen said “someone she trusted” contacted her to help with the McMaster operation. “Somebody who had his calendar conveyed to me that he goes to Tosca all the time,” she said, and she passed the information on to a man she believed to be a Project Veritas operative with a fake name. The McMaster operation was aborted after he, unrelated to Project Veritas, resigned under pressure from Trump. O’Keefe did not respond to the substance of the Times’ report but did accuse the newspaper of running a “smear piece” on Project Veritas. Seddon left the project in 2018, before O’Keefe started releasing low-impact “unmasking the deep state” videos. He was dismayed, three former Project Veritas employees told the Times, with “O’Keefe’s desire to produce quick media content rather than to run long-term infiltration operations.” Read more about the operation and its cast of characters at The New York Times. Peter Weber […]

SPY NEWS

Blinken meets Israeli spy chief as Iran talks continue

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top Biden administration national security aides met Thursday with the chief of Israel’s Mossad spy agency for talks that focused primarily on Iran, according to officials familiar with the meeting. The two-hour meeting was the second this week in Washington involving senior officials from the two countries and underscored Israel’s unease with ongoing indirect nuclear negotiations between Iran and the United States in Vienna and Iran more broadly, the officials said. Although other issues were discussed, Israel used Thursday’s meeting to “express strong concerns” about Iran, one of the officials said. […]

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Russian fighter jet again intercept U.S. Air Force RC-135 spy plane

Russian MiG-31 Foxhound fighter jet intercepted U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft over the Pacific Ocean along the southeastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday. According to the ministry, Russian airspace control systems detected an aerial target flying over the Pacific Ocean towards Russia’s border. “A […] […]

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U.S. spy chiefs say China is 'unparalleled priority'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. spy agency leaders said on Wednesday that China is an “unparalleled” priority, citing Beijing’s regional aggression and cyber capabilities as they testified at a public congressional “Worldwide Threats” hearing for the first time in more than two years. “Given that China is an unparalleled priority for the intelligence community, I will start with highlighting certain aspects of the threat from Beijing,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee. She described China as increasingly “a near-peer competitor challenging the United States in multiple arenas.” […]

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Russia scrambles fighter jet against RC-135W Rivet Joint spy plane

A Russian MiG-31 (NATO reporting name: Foxhound) fighter jet intercepted a U.S. Air Force RC-135W Rivet Joint strategic reconnaissance aircraft over the Pacific Ocean in the Kamchatka region, Russia’s National Defense Control Center reported on Friday. “Russian airspace control systems detected an air target over the territory of the Pacific Ocean approaching Russia’s state border. […] […]

SPY NEWS

U.S. Spy Agencies Warn of Threats From Digital Currency to AI

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. intelligence community predicts an increasingly leaderless and unstable world in the coming decades as trends such as artificial intelligence, digital currencies and climate change reshape the global arena, according to the National Intelligence Council.The coming decades will be characterized by a mismatch between global challenges and “the ability of institutions and system to respond,” according to “Global Trends 2040: A More Contested World.” The result will be “greater contestation at every level” — especially between the U.S. and China.Read the full “Global Trends” report here.Here are some of the trends cited in the latest edition of the report that’s published every four years:Debt pressures: National governments will have “reduced flexibility” to deal with challenges such as climate change in the face of growing debt burdens and increasingly diverse trading rules.Digital currencies: The U.S. dollar and the euro will face threats from digital currencies such as Bitcoin. “Privately issued digital currencies could add complexity to the conduct of monetary policy by reducing countries’ control over their exchange rates and money supply,” the report says.Climate pressure: Climate change will drive social divisions within states and exacerbate international tensions. It will worsen water insecurity as well as increase pressures for migration.Assertive China: Although the report says “no single state” will be able to dominate “all regions or domains,” intensified U.S. competition with China runs through its pages. The Asian superpower will look to “assert dominance in Asia,” press U.S. allies to “restrict U.S. basing access,” and move Taiwan “closer to reunification by 2040, possibly through sustained and intensive coercion.”New ways of war: Increased competition between states will result in further nuclear proliferation and an increased risk of interstate conflict. Artificial intelligence will “enhance the performance of existing weapons, defenses, and systems.”Space race: By 2040, China will be the U.S.’s most formidable rival in space. By that time it’s likely to have its “own set of foreign partners participating in Chinese-led space activities” and its BeiDou satellite navigation system will probably be in use around the world as an alternative to the Pentagon-backed GPS.Permanent populism: “Polarization along ethnic, religious, and ideological lines is likely to remain strong,” and this is likely to “reinforce political dysfunction” and “heighten risks of political instability.”AI-powered propaganda: The proliferation of digital technologies and advances in artificial intelligence will open the door for both states and non-state actors to “influence populations, including by ratcheting up cognitive manipulation and societal polarization,” the report says.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P. […]

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Israeli Air Force receives new Oron intelligence spy plane

The Israeli Air Force announced on Sunday that it has received new Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance aircraft, called the Oron. The announcement detailed that the 122nd (“Nachson”) Squadron received its new aircraft – the “Oron”, which will grant the IAF unprecedented intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. The advanced aircraft was formally introduced in a ceremony […] […]

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Kremlin Spy and Ex-U.S. Convict Sent to Humiliate Navalny in Prison

DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty ImagesMOSCOW—Russia’s imprisoned opposition leader, Aleksey Navalny, is on a hunger strike in a notorious penal colony. He says he suffers from back pain while prison guards “torture” him by waking him every hour at night. Independent prison observers have been desperate to check up on him, with hundreds of Russian public figures sending open letters and petitions to authorities, calling for a halt to the humiliating treatment. Human rights activists addressed the Kremlin on Friday more bluntly: “He is being slowly killed.”The response? Instead of sending an independent human rights observer or a doctor to visit Navalny in prison, the Kremlin sent Maria Butina, a Russian spy and U.S. ex-convict. Now a pro-Kremlin activist, Butina pleaded guilty in a U.S. court in 2018 to acting as a Russian agent while infiltrating the NRA and Republican Party political circles.Desperate Putin Resorts to Jailing Journalists for Retweeting JokesButina reported what she had heard from other inmates in the prison colony, called IK-2, complaining not about conditions in the prison, but about Navalny himself. Butina said other inmates despised Navalny’s for “lying in bed all day “like a master,’” and said he “does not clean after himself.” She insisted that Navalny was living in better conditions than she had endured in American jail. “My recommendation to Aleksey: if you committed a crime, be a man, serve your time.”Butina also posted a video clip said to show Navalny slowly pacing in his barrack: “He is walking! Oh, this is magic! With a cup of coffee,” she commented. Mr. Navalny had said his legs were going numb from the back pain.Butina said Navalny was rude to her during their about 20-minute-long conversation, accusing her of telling lies and stealing. A transcript of the alleged dialogue with Navalny was published on Telegram, with Butina saying: “You know perfectly well that if you are not cleaning, somebody cleans for you. I have been to prison. I know that it becomes somebody else’s responsibility.” Navalny purportedly responded by telling her she lies a lot, and that, “everything [she says] is endless lies, including your stories about American prison.”Human rights defenders were in shock. “At the time when Navalny obviously needs professional medical help, they send an RT state TV channel crew to that very penal colony–this is an unacceptable situation,” Tanya Lokshina, director of the Russian program at Human Rights Watch, told The Daily Beast.Rules do not prohibit an outside doctor from providing care in prison, Lokshina explained, adding, “We are aware of cases in which the Russian prison system provided civilian doctors for sick inmates.”Butina’s comments horrified a former prisoner of IK2, Vladimir Pereverzin. “It is hard to imagine anything more cynical and misleading,” he said. “Nobody is allowed to stay in bed in that prison. If she says he stays in bed all the time, it means he is so sick that the prison doctor allowed it,” Pereversin, an economist who was swept up in a crackdown on an oil company a decade ago, told The Daily Beast. After spending seven years behind bars, Pereversin described his experience at the prison as a constant nightmare.“The prison guards humiliated me constantly,” he said. “They fabricated reports against me so just like Navalny I had to go on hunger strike. I even stabbed myself in the stomach and only then did they moved me to a single cell, which was a huge relief.”An opposition playwright and satirist, Viktor Shenderovich, said the visit by Butina symbolized the general tone of mockery in Kremlin policy.“The government decided to kill Navalny, to destroy him both physically and morally,” Shenderovich told the Daily Beast. “This is not a political move but a moral issue: Russia is split right now between obvious supporters of good and of those who support evil.”Shenderovich described the ordeal as somewhat of a “win” for Kremlin loyalists.“Many Kremlin supporters are giggling now when they read Butina’s comments,” he said. “They are happy to see the Kremlin trolling and mocking the West and Navalny supporters. But actually, this is the humiliation of morality itself.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more. […]

SPY NEWS

The Italian job: A russian spy story in Rome

The Carabinieri, italian military police, said the suspected spy in Italy’s navy was discovered after a long investigation led by AISI, Italy’s domestic intelligence bureau. They detained an Italian Navy captain together with a Russian military official on suspicion of spying. To start this narration we have to tell what Russia did last year to […] […]

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Borissov’s administration uses Cold War spy blueprints to go after critical voices in Bulgaria

Days after the sizzling-hot US-China Alaska Summit, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is visiting Brussels this week for the NATO defense ministerial in attempt to secure a buy-in from European NATO on the freshly-unveiled American policy of confrontation towards China. In parallel, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s administration, which faces parliamentary elections in the coming days, […] […]

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How Pakistani Spy Officials Blocked Justice for Daniel Pearl

Getty ImagesBy Jeff Stein Of all the open sores in the long, painful relationship between the United States and Pakistan, the dragged-out case of Daniel Pearl’s murder hurts the worst.Just over 20 years have passed since Pearl, an affable and gifted correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, went missing in Karachi. About a month after his disappearance on Jan. 23, 2001, his killers posted a grisly video of his beheading.From start to finish, the people involved in Pearl’s kidnapping and murder were members of militant groups long backed by Pakistan’s all-powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI. Last month, in yet another outrage, Pakistan’s Supreme Court freed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the man responsible for luring Pearl to his death, from prison and sent him to a halfway house. The judges had connections to the ISI.The act exemplified Pakistan’s treacherous double game with the U.S. The Islamic nation claims to practice democratic norms, yet empowers its security agencies to collaborate with the world’s most dangerous militant groups, from Al Qaeda to the Afghan Taliban to terrorist units carrying out bloody attacks in India.“The overturning of the convictions of Daniel Pearl’s killers reflects the tenuous nature of Pakistan’s actions against terrorists,” Hussain Haqqani, a prominent pro-Western Pakistani journalist who served as his nation’s ambassador to the U.S from 2008 to 2011, told SpyTalk.But the case has also been complicated by the FBI and Justice Department quietly accepting false and conflicting confessions in the U.S. case against Sheikh, who was indicted by a federal grand jury in Newark on March 14, 2002. One former FBI agent who worked on the case in Pakistan tells SpyTalk that his bosses and then-federal prosecutor Chris Christie “didn’t want to hear” information that undermined a murder charge against the Pakistani suspect. “There was no one else that they could stick with it,” Ty Fairman told SpyTalk in an exclusive interview. “They wanted to get him” because he’d been involved in the kidnapping of two other Americans in India seven years earlier.Biden administration officials responded to the Pakistani court decision with unbridled anger. At the White House, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the United States was “outraged.” She described Sheikh’s release as “an affront to terror victims everywhere.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a lengthy statement asserting that the United States was “deeply concerned,” a message he “reinforced” in a telephone call with Pakistan’s foreign minister. Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson added that the U.S. “stands ready to take custody of Sheikh.” Pearl’s widow Marianne wrote a mournful piece for The Washington Post saying she was “convinced that true justice will never come from above.” 80556359 Journalist Mariane Pearl, recipient of the Fern Holland Award, speaks at the news conference for Vital Voices’ 2008 Global Leadership Awards on April 7, 2008 in Washington, DC. Nancy Ostertag/Getty She is right. The case has been so tainted by corruption and interference by powerful figures in Pakistan’s security establishment that Sheikh is not only likely to go free but escape justice here—in the unlikely event he were shipped to the U.S. for trial. The U.S. and Pakistan have no extradition agreement. The case has been marred from the beginning by false, coerced and contradictory confessions that would make a murder conviction in an American court unlikely.“It would be a nightmare of a case,” former FBI agent Jay Kanetkar, who headed the bureau’s investigation in Pakistan, told Georgetown University’s Pearl Project, which has spent years on the case. Omar Sheikh had undergone a “softening up” by Pakistani police, he said.The case had been troubled from the beginning. Pakistani police coerced a confession from a taxi driver that he had ferried Pearl and Omar Saeed Sheikh to the spot where Pearl was kidnapped.Former FBI agent Fairman tells SpyTalk Sheikh was nowhere near Karachi. He “was actually in his home town with his wife and family the day that Daniel Pearl was picked up [by kidnappers] in Karachi,” Fairman says, “and we all knew that. It was part of the information that we passed on. Everyone knew it.”But in an unsettling allegation, Fairman says his FBI bosses and Christie, then the U.S. Attorney in Newark, who would rise to become governor of New Jersey, didn’t want to hear about it. They wanted a fast solution to Pearl’s murder, implicating Sheikh, who had already been secretly indicted for kidnapping American tourists in India years earlier.Omar’s AlibiFairman, who is telling the inside story of the FBI’s handling of the case for the first time, says he told his supervisors that not only was Sheikh 840 miles away in Islamabad, an FBI forensic analysis of the execution video released by his captors on Feb. 22 ruled out Sheikh’s presence at the scene. The real killer was the infamous Al Qaeda terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was then at large in Pakistan and wanted for coordinating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is shown in this file photograph during his arrest on March 1, 2003. Reuters “We got the videotape and we processed it one frame at a time,” Fairman says. “We looked at the feet, the hands, everything about the video. And we gave FBI Newark the information saying this is not Sheikh. We said it was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”“They weren’t happy with that information,” Fairman added. He says he was demoted and eventually forced out of the FBI because of his objections. “Chris Christie was not happy with the information.” Nor were the Pakistanis. Authorities “deliberately discounted testimony suggesting” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was responsible, the BBC reported.The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment. Chris Christie, who now runs a lobbying firm, did not respond by press time.Gone FreeKSM, as he’s universally known, was captured by U.S. agents in Pakistan in 2003 and immediately hustled out of the country to a succession of CIA black sites, where he was subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Four years later at Guantanamo, he confessed to FBI agents that he “personally slit Pearl’s throat and severed his head to make certain he’d get the death penalty and to exploit the murder for propaganda,” the Pearl Project reported. But he has never been charged in the case. His trial by a military court on the 9/11 charges has been repeatedly delayed, most recently because of coronavirus concerns.Fairman says Pakistani authorities “refused to allow us to interview the taxi driver. It was off limits. We were told to leave him alone—don’t even push the issue. And that’s it, don’t touch it.” And he added, “That was a smoking gun. If you have no proof to put Omar Sheikh in Karachi at the same time that Daniel Pearl was picked up and actually kidnapped, you can’t really tie them together” in a murder charge.Not that Sheikh was entirely innocent—hardly. He’d volunteered to police that he’d arranged for Pearl’s kidnapping, but nothing more. Fairman says Sheikh told him he had planned to kidnap Pearl in a grand scheme to ransom him for U.S. F-16 warplanes that Pakistan had paid for but never received because of congressional concerns over Islamabad’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. But then Al Qaeda intervened, Sheikh told him.“He did admit to me that he was orchestrating the kidnapping,” Fairman said in a telephone interview from Sierra Leone, where he now lives and works. “But when Al Qaeda found out [Pearl had been kidnapped], that’s when they came in and took over. And he was pissed off with Al Qaeda and had issues with them on why they would circumvent his operation.”That’s not what Sheikh was telling authorities, however. In a deposition a few month later he told the anti-terrorism court he had nothing to do with Pearl’s disappearance, that “he had never met him.” The judges didn’t buy it, convicting him of murder and sentencing him to death by hanging. Only 17 years later, in a bid for a new hearing to get the sentence overturned, did he admit complicity in the crime, arguing that his involvement was “a relatively minor one….”Daniel Pearl Murder: Pearl Project Investigation Reveals New Details “That’s a lie, of course,” wrote Pearl Project Co-Director Asra Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and close friend of Pearl. Sheikh “was the spider who lured Pearl into a web of murderous extremists who killed him.”If Sheikh were to be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial on murder charges, Fairman maintains, he would be acquitted. Federal prosecutors “have no concrete evidence to tie him into the murder of Daniel Pearl,” he says. “Accessory to the kidnapping, yes.”The notion that Pakistani security officials, a number of whom have sympathies for and even close ties to terrorist groups including Al Qaeda, were quick to confine their murder case to Omar Sheikh and a few accomplices is not new—NBC News reported that in 2007. What is new is that U.S. officials went along with it.The Pearl Project, co-directed by Barbara Feinman Todd, who has assisted such Washington Post luminaries as Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and the late Benjamin Bradlee with their books, also found that the proceedings were corrupt.“In their haste to close the case, Pakistani authorities knowingly used perjured testimony to pin the actual act of murder on Omar Sheikh and his three co-conspirators,” the Pearl Project said in its 2011 report. “While the four were involved in the kidnapping plan and certainly were culpable, they were not present when Pearl was murdered. Others, who were present and actually assisted in the brutal beheading, were not charged.”The main culprit, of course, was KSM, who was captured in Rawalpindi, which also happens to be the headquarters of the Pakistani Army and home to hundreds of current and retired generals and senior officials of the ISI. As the world now knows, Osama Bin Laden lived for some time in Abbottabad, 75 miles north of Islamabad and home to the Pakistani Military Academy. The Al Qaeda leader and his terrorist group had previously been sheltered in Afghanistan by the ISI-backed Afghan Taliban.If Pakistan admitted that KSM had executed Pearl, its tolerance, if not protection, of Al Qaeda would be laid bare. But Omar Sheikh’s involvement also threatened to spotlight the double game Pakistani intelligence has long played with the U.S. and its allies.While the ISI had worked hand in glove with the CIA in the 1980s to defeat the Soviet Red Army in Afghanistan, elements of it have gone on to work with terrorist organizations to advance Pakistan’s aims of destabilizing India and thwarting its influence in Afghanistan. At other times, Pakistani security agencies have helped Washington hunt down jihadis such as Mir Aimal Kansi, who shot several CIA employees outside the agency’s gate in Langley, Virginia, in January 1993, and Abu Zubaydah, a militant wrongly identified at the time as a top lieutenant to Osama Bin Laden. Elements of the ISI and Pakistani Army Rangers also assisted in the 2003 capture of senior 9/11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whose presence in the country was a huge embarrassment.Omar Sheikh was deeply enmeshed in that duplicity—and more. According to a 2002 ABC News report, the U.K.-raised and educated Sheikh began working for the ISI in 1993, after he’d gone to Bosnia to help Muslims under assault by Serbs. According to some accounts, he may also have been working for Britain’s MI6 intelligence in Bosnia when it and the CIA were both helping the Bosnian Muslims fend off the Serbs. Former Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf alleged in his 2006 autobiography that Sheikh was recruited by MI6 while a student at the London School of Economics but “went rogue” and turned into a jihadi “double agent” in Bosnia. In any event, he soon joined up with Harkat-ul-Ansar, an ISI-backed Pakistani terrorist group fighting in India’s divided Kashmir. He became such a trusted operative that in the summer of 2001 then-ISI head Mahmoud Ahmed reportedly gave him $100,000 to wire to Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker in the 9/11 attacks. In the ensuing months and years seven key Al Qaeda operatives, most of them connected to the 9/11 plot, were arrested in Pakistan.In late January and early February 2002, Pakistan was under enormous pressure from Washington to find and rescue Pearl. Within days of his disappearance, his kidnappers had released a photo of Pearl with a gun at his head, but KSM’s connection to the crime had not surfaced. On February 5, 2002, Sheikh showed up at the home of retired general Ijaz Shah, a family friend who also happened to be a former ISI intelligence officer. Seven days would pass before Ijaz Shah delivered Sheikh to Pakistani police. Was ISI trying to work out some kind of deal to keep him quiet about its connection to him, or even figure out a way to help him escape? A portrait of the Wall Street Journal’s reporter Daniel Pearl stands with a candle at the altar at Fleet Street’s journalists chapel St Brides Church prior to a memorial service in London March 5, 2002. Reuters “This interlude has raised numerous questions,” noted the Pearl Project, “Was the ISI protecting Sheikh?” the project’s final report asked. “Was it holding him to make sure he wouldn’t spill any of its secrets? Was Omar Sheikh hoping the intelligence service—perhaps the most powerful institution in Pakistan—would provide him some protection? Most provocatively, were elements in the ISI, which have backed the Taliban and Pakistan militant groups, knowledgeable about Omar Sheikh’s kidnapping activities? Even worse, was the ISI involved?”None of these questions have been answered. Nor this one: How much did MI6 and the CIA know about Omar Sheikh Sheikh’s connection to ISI-backed terrorist groups? In an disquieting coincidence, the former ISI chiefMahmoud Ahmed happened to be in Washington on Sept. 11, 2001 on an official visit feted by CIA Director George Tenet and other top officials. (Ahmed would be forced out after reports of Omar Sheikh’s $100,000 wire transfer to Mohammed Atta surfaced.)Taxi to the Dark SideFairman says that Pakistani police “coerced the taxi driver into saying that Pearl and Sheikh were both in the car together” in Karachi, where the reporter was en route to a meeting for a story he was pursuing. On July 15, 2002, with Washington closely watching, an anti-terrorism court judge sentenced Sheikh to death by hanging as the “mastermind” of Pearl’s murder. Three others involved in the plot were given life sentences. “Islamabad was embarrassed about Pearl’s execution and wanted to show it was tough on terrorism—at a time when it had just established a new, post-9/11 counterterrorism partnership with Washington,” Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., recently wrote. In New Jersey, a federal grand jury returned a superseding, and more careful, indictment charging Sheikh with “hostage-taking and conspiracy to commit hostage-taking, resulting in the death of Daniel Pearl.” The Justice Department also unsealed an indictment charging him with the 1994 armed kidnapping of Béla Nuss, an American tourist, in India. (Sheikh was jailed in that case but freed soon after when his followers hijacked an Air India jet out of Nepal and swapped the hostages for his release.)In both the Béla Nuss and Pearl cases, the tall, sweet-talking Pakistani with the plummy British accent had diabolically employed his quick wit to lure them into danger. In India, Sheikh had offered Nuss a special tour. In Pakistan, he offered Pearl help with his investigation of Pakistani terrorist links to Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber” who attempted to blow up an airliner en route from Paris to Miami in December 2001. After KSM’s 2007 confession, Sheikh’s lawyers began appealing his murder conviction. On April 2, 2020, Pakistan’s high court decided he was guilty only of kidnapping and sentenced him to seven years in jail. Since he had already spent 18 years in prison, he was ruled free to go, but the Pakistani government prevented his release by detaining him and the three co-defendants. While denouncing his release, the U.S. State Department hailed Pakistan’s decision to appeal. Then came the Pakistani Supreme Court January order freeing Sheikh to a halfway house. All along, more questions have arisen about the true role of Ijaz Shah, the former ISI intelligence officer who gave shelter to Sheikh for a week in February 2002. According to some reports, Shah was Sheikh’s ISI handler.In the years following Sheikh’s conviction, Shah would rise to become head of Pakistan’s powerful domestic Intelligence Bureau, a vicious rival to the ISI. Shah’s reputation for political repression was such that in 2004 Australia rejected his nomination to be Pakistan’s High Commissioner, or ambassador, to Canberra. He was also suspected of having a hand in the2007assassination of Pakistan’s formerPrime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi. According to reports, Bhutto had told associates that Shah “was conspiring with terrorists to assassinate her, naming him in a letter as someone who should be investigated if she died.” And that’s not all. One of the ISI’s former chiefs, General Ziauddin Butt, publicly accused Shah of helping hide Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad.Shah dismissed Butt’s charges as simple bureaucratic rivalry. “The General is settling old scores,” Shah told The Age, an Australian newspaper. “He is trying to damage people by alleging everything about everyone. This is the way in Pakistan.”None of that has stopped Shah’s rise in Pakistan’s security hierarchy and may have even helped it. Last year Prime Minister Imran Khan elevated him to interior minister, where a well informed source said he “got the court to acquit Sheikh and has effectively blocked Sheikh’s extradition to U.S.” In a cabinet shuffle in December, he was put atop the counter-narcotics ministry. His new boss, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, was once detained at the Houston airport and interrogated for five hours about his links to the terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, an alleged mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attacks. A strenuous protest by Pakistan got him released.Two of the three Pakistani Supreme Court jurists who freed Sheikh in January, saying the murder conviction was flawed and that he’d already served enough time for kidnapping, are “considered sympathizers to militants in Pakistan,” Asra Nomani told SpyTalk. “One is a military judge.”Fouling JusticeAnd so once again, Islamabad’s deeply entrenched intelligence officials have scuttled a chance for Pakistan to improve relations with the United States.“Sadly,” says Larry Pfeiffer, former chief of staff to retired CIA Director Michael Hayden, “Pakistan’s behavior demonstrates that without continued U.S. pressure—persuasion or coercion—it too readily falls back into the bad habit of protecting or even supporting those who would do Americans harm. We’ve seen this movie before, and we know sadly that it too often can end in American deaths.”Daniel Pearl’s parents, Ruth and Judea Pearl, said the family was “in complete shock” over the decision, calling it a travesty of justice.” They added that “the release of these killers puts in danger journalists everywhere and the people of Pakistan.”In 2018, the Trump administration got fed up with Pakistan for continuing to “harbor criminals and terrorists,” as the former president put it. It directed the Pentagon to suspend $300 million in aid designated for Pakistan under a program for regional partners who are helping “stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America.” Also at the administration’s urging, the Financial Action Task Force, an international dirty-money watchdog, put Pakistan on its “grey list” for failing to crack down sufficiently on terrorism. The FATF renewed the designation last month.Lisa Curtis was a key advocate for a tougher line on Pakistan in the Trump White House National Security Council. “Pakistan did try to distance itself from the militancy somewhat” after the Pentagon aid cut, she told SpyTalk. “We did see some decrease in the operations of these groups, over the last couple of years.” On the other hand, she said, “with the Taliban, we still see that they [Pakistani leaders] are playing both sides.”The prospects for Pakistan handing over Sheikh for trial in the U.S. are dim, Curtis says. Too many secrets could emerge.Some Pakistani observers with longtime experience dealing with Islamabad suspect the CIA has sources and methods at risk as well. The CIA and ISI go back a long way, they note with a raised eyebrow. “Why is the U.S. not fast-tracking the extradition demand?” one asked. Knowledgeable Americans dismiss Pakistani skepticism as a conspiracy fantasy: The U.S. has wanted to try Omar Sheikh for years, all the way back to 1994 Bela Nuss kidnapping. In any event, that trial won’t happen—unless Washington finds some way to get Sheikh into a U.S. courtroom.“I think it’s highly doubtful that Pakistan would agree to extradite Omar Sheikh, for the simple reason that he likely has had dealings with the ISI in the past and the Pakistan government would not want that to surface,” Curtis said. “I think the best that we can hope for is that Pakistan finds some way to keep him in detention.”Keeping him under wraps in Pakistan also keeps a lid on the FBI’s can of worms. “I tell you what,” says Fairman, the former FBI agent, who was involved in several foreign terrorism cases as a forensic expert, “they couldn’t call me to testify. I’d have to answer the questions and tell the truth. I couldn’t lie. Not on the stand.” He’d say Omar Sheikh was only an accessory to the kidnapping..The Pearl Project’s Asra Nomani just wants to see Sheikh back in prison, wherever.“Because this was an extraterritorial case outside of U.S. boundaries, there were complicating factors in the case,” she concedes. “But Omar Sheikh and the three co-defendants are absolutely one-hundred-percent guilty. And they should not see freedom.”Co-published with SpyTalk, where Jeff Stein leads an all-star team of veteran investigative reporters, writers, and subject-matter experts who will take you behind the scenes of the national security state. Subscribe to get full access to the newsletter and website.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more. […]

SPY NEWS

Philadelphia Is a Secret Spy Mecca

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos via GettyA little-known secret of Philadelphia is its two centuries at the center of American espionage. A year before the Founding Fathers met in Independence Hall to draft the Declaration of Independence, several signatories—including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin—created a spy network to counter the overwhelming superiority of the British army in the colonies. The seeds that were planted in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War grew into tangled roots of intrigue through the course of American history. SPY SITES OF PHILADELPHIA (Georgetown University Press) presents 130 accounts of Philadelphia spy operations and spymasters—here is a small taste.BIRTHPLACE OF AMERICAN INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS➤ Independence Hall: 520 Chestnut Street Independence Hall, where America’s first spy organizations were created. The Founding Fathers devoted much time and energy to clandestine operations. Henry R. Schlesinger Construction of Independence Hall, originally built as the Pennsylvania State House, began in 1732 and was completed in 1749. During the Second Continental Congress in 1775, the building where the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution were signed also became the birthplace of America’s first congressional foreign intelligence committees.One of George Washington’s first major expenditures after becoming commander of the Continental Army was from a secret account authorized by the Congress, on July 15, 1775. Washington paid an unidentified individual $333.33 to travel to establish an intelligence network in Boston. Then in June 1776 Congress created the Committee on Spies charged with responsibility for detecting and prosecuting spies. Among the committee members were John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Wilson. Another Committee for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies, chaired by John Jay, was established in New York. As a result, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme count can also be called the Founding Father of US counterintelligence.FOUNDING FATHERS AND THE FRENCH SPY➤ Carpenters’ Hall: 320 Chestnut Street Carpenters’ Hall was the site of clandestine meetings between patriot leaders and an undercover French emissary. Henry R. Schlesinger Carpenters’ Hall, site of the First Continental Congress, hosted one of the earliest and most important clandestine meetings in the nation’s history. In December 1775, a French envoy, posing as an Antwerp merchant, arrived in Philadelphia. Sent as a secret emissary by France’s foreign minister, the mission of 26-year-old Julien Achard de Bonvouloir was to meet with the American leadership and survey the viability of the colonial rebellion.Both parties were suspicious of the proposed meeting. The patriots feared British spies were behind the visit, while France wanted to keep a cautious public distance from the colonial rebellion. Eventually, members of the Committee for Secret Correspondence, knowing they would need international support, agreed to meet the mysterious foreign visitor.Bonvouloir conferred with Franklin, John Jay, and Thomas Jefferson on the second floor of Carpenters’ Hall. Bonvouloir identified himself as a private individual with powerful connections in France rather than as an official government envoy. The patriots asked if the French government would be open to selling desperately needed arms and ammunition. Bonvouloir offered no formal promises but hinted that weapons could possibly be made available from private firms. These secret meetings were the first tentative steps toward France’s crucial assistance for the colonies’ battle for freedom.FRUITS, VEGETABLES, AND ESPIONAGE➤ The New Market: South Second Street between Lombard and Pine Streets The New Market, was a clearinghouse of Patriot intelligence in and out of Philadelphia. Henry R. Schlesinger Established in 1745, the New Market was a bustling center of Philadelphia commerce. The name distinguished the businesses from the “old” market across the street that did not have stalls housed in a long shed that protected New Market merchants from bad weather.During the 1777-1778 British occupation of Philadelphia this 18th-century “shopping mall” became a hotbed of espionage. Patriot farmers evaded roadblocks or bribed patrols to bring their goods to town, then used their commercial activity as a cover for spying. Jacob Levering—one of the so-called Green Boys, a loosely organized group of guerrilla fighters and spies—disguised himself as a Quaker farmer and paddled a canoe loaded with produce down the Schuylkill River. Once inside the city, Levering collected intelligence and slipped out again. Washington’s spymaster, Maj. John Clark Jr., provided farmer-spies with stolen passes, allowing them to cross “legally” into British territory.In another daring operation, Mary Redmond, known as the “Little Black-Eyed Rebel,” developed a network to keep patriots in touch with their families. Working with a farm boy who visited the city to sell produce in the market, she received and passed to local women letters from their husbands and sons in the Continental Army.KNIT ONE, PURL TWO, SPY THREE➤ Rinker’s Rock: Fairmount Park, 4231 North Concourse Drive The rock ledge where Ma Rinker would sit knitting and dropping messages to a band of patriot guerrilla fighters. Henry R. Schlesinger Molly “Mom” Rinker was a Pennsylvania tavern keeper and patriot. According to legend, she perched herself on a flat rock along the Wissahickon Creek not far from the Walnut Lane Bridge and knitted. A passerby would see a middle-aged woman quietly working away with yarn and needles. However from time to time, the wily Rinker would drop a ball of yarn with a written message wrapped in its center; the messages contained intelligence that she collected from Tory conversations she overheard in her family’s tavern and inn. The Green Boys, a Patriot guerrilla band, retrieved and couriered the yarn balls to Washington’s Valley Forge headquarters.DETECTIVE WORK IS WOMAN’S WORK➤ Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency office: 45 South Third Street Kate Warne, an employee of the Pinkerton Agency, may be America’s first female detective. Keith Melton & Robert Wallace Allan Pinkerton, Chicago’s first police detective, was a staunch abolitionist and supporter of the Union cause. In 1860 Pinkerton assigned five agents to investigate threats against the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad by secessionist sympathizers. Among the Pinkerton agents was Kate Warne. In early 1861, using the aliases of Mrs. Cherry and Mrs. M. B. Barley, Warne infiltrated the Baltimore secessionist movement under the cover story of a visiting Southern lady. With a thick Southern accent complementing a readiness to flirt and a mischievous twinkle in her eye, she was welcomed into secessionist social gatherings. The combined work of Warne and other Pinkerton agents uncovered a plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln during his trip to Washington for his inauguration.As Lincoln’s train rolled from Philadelphia to Baltimore to Washington on the night of February 22, 1861, Warne did not sleep a wink. She remained in Baltimore as a precaution while watching the president’s train depart for the capital. According to legend, Pinkerton came up with the slogan for his agency “We Never Sleep” as a result of Warne’s sleepless night guarding Lincoln. The famed Pinkerton’s Detective Agency maintained an office on South Third Street. H. Keith Melton & Robert Wallace When the Civil War ended, Pinkerton opened a Philadelphia office at 45 South Third Street. Warne, his superintendent of detectives, was promoted to head the Female Detective Bureau. However, at the young age of 38, she caught pneumonia and died in 1868. In his memoirs Pinkerton named Warne one of the five greatest detectives he ever employed.UNDERGROUND RAILROAD INTELLIGENCE➤ Belmont Mansion: 2000 Belmont Mansion Drive The beautiful Belmont Mansion in Fairmount Park Runaway slaves moving north through the Underground Railroad were valuable sources of Civil War intelligence for the Union. Called contraband informants because of their status in Southern states as property, the runaways provided Union generals, such as Joseph Hooker andGeorge McClellan, with first-person information about the South. Confederate general Robert E. Lee recognized the value of their intelligence when he wrote, “The chief source of information to the enemy is through our Negroes. They are easily deceived by proper caution.”An important safe house or station for the escaping slaves along the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia was the Belmont Mansion, now home to the Underground Railroad Museum.Only relatively recently have the contributions of African Americans to Civil War intelligence efforts come to public attention. Among those is that of Mary Touvestre, a freed slave who worked in Norfolk, Virginia, as a housekeeper for an engineer. After overhearing conversations regarding the retrofit of the USS Merrimack into an ironclad capable of breaking the Union blockade, she stole the technical plans and delivered them to military officials in Washington. In another example, John Scobell, a freed slave from Mississippi, posed as a servant working with Allan Pinkerton’s operatives Timothy Webster and Hattie Lawton. Scobell elicited intelligence information through his access and acceptance to black communities that would have been impossible for his white counterparts to obtain.A TREASURE TROVE OF CRYPTOGRAPHIC HISTORY➤ University of Pennsylvania, Van Pelt Library: 3420 Walnut StreetOne of the largest collections of rare and antiquarian books on cryptography resides in the University of Pennsylvania Library. The books, pamphlets, and other writings were a donation from Charles J. Mendelsohn, a cryptographer and graduate of University of Pennsylvania where he earned a PhD in classics in 1904.While teaching at the College of the City of New York during World War I, he joined the Censorship Division of the US Post Office and was recruited into Military Intelligence, Section 8, the US Army’s code-breaking division. At war’s end Herbert Yardley founded the Cipher Bureau where Mendelsohn collaborated on a number of business codebooks with Yardley.Through the 1930s, Mendelsohn continued his love of cryptography, published papers on classic codes, and collected rare texts on the subject. He was called back to government service as World War II loomed but died on September 27, 1939, just a few days prior to reporting for active duty.CHEMIST, INVENTOR, AND SPY➤ Ben Franklin Hotel (now the Franklin Residences): 834 Chestnut StreetIn the decade prior to World War II, the USSR coveted advanced technology available in the US. Soviet spies targeted the University of Pennsylvania’s world class biological research faculty and in particular Earl W. Flosdorf, who pioneered a method to freeze-dry blood plasma. The process represented a significant advance in battlefield medicine.Flosdorf, a collector of expensive antique cars, was recruited, met his handlers at the Ben Franklin Hotel, and was paid secretly by the Soviets from 1936 through 1938. Assigned the code name OUTPOST, he may have received as much as $25,000 for providing the Soviets with a device that could freeze-dry materials for biological weapons.THE REAL INDIANA JONES?➤ University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology: 3260 South Street Rodney S. Young, archaeologist and spy, was the curator of the Mediterranean Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Henry R. Schlesinger Indiana Jones, a swashbuckling academic and archaeologist who battled Nazis, thrilled moviegoers with daring deeds and narrow escapes. But was there a real-life Indiana Jones? The adventures of Rodney S. Young and his fellow archaeologists come close. Young joined the spy world with an Ivy League education with a specialty in Near Eastern archaeology and spent years at excavations in Greece. At the start of World War II, he volunteered as an ambulance driver. Wounded during an air raid, he returned home to work for the Office of Strategic Services and oversaw operations from 1944 to 1945 as head of the OSS Greek Desk.Young is credited with participating in scores of missions throughout the region that involved intelligence gathering, sabotage, exfiltration, and support of guerrilla fighters. He worked with several other American archaeologists, including John Franklin Daniel III from the University of Pennsylvania.After the war, Young worked at the Mediterranean Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, but rarely spoke of his wartime exploits.Young was not the only Indiana Jones candidate from Philadelphia. To his students at the University of Pennsylvania, Carleton Stevens Coon was a mild-mannered anthropologist with a background that stretched back to Harvard and fieldwork throughout North Africa. Recruited by the OSS, Coon collected tactical intelligence on enemy communications and transportation. He recruited resistance fighters to wage guerrilla warfare in North Africa and designed plastic explosives molded in the shape of mule dung that were scattered along desert roads to disable German vehicles.What made archaeologists particularly attractive candidates as spies was their knowledge of local languages, customs, and terrain. In contrast to American tourists, whose interests were primarily in visiting foreign capitals, archaeologists possessed detailed, hard-earned knowledge of remote outlying areas that often proved vital to war planning. Spy Sites of Philadelphia Georgetown University Press H. Keith Melton is an internationally recognized intelligence historian and authority on espionage technology. Robert Wallace is the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of Technical Service, founder of the Artemus Consulting Group, and contributor to the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence. Melton and Wallace have co authored numerous books, including Spy Sites of Philadelphia, Spy Sites of Washington, DC, and Spy Sites of New York City. They are also executive producers of the Netflix series Spycraft.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more. […]

SPY NEWS

New research reveals a more complete, complex life story of Civil War spy Mary Louveste

For more than a century, people have known very little about the famous Norfolk spy, Mary Louveste. In 1861 or 1862, Louveste took information from the Confederate Navy about its ironclad ship the USS Virginia. Louveste gave the information to the Union. People have written books and news articles using that basic information and filled the gaps with fiction. A few local historians and educators, however, have been searching for more information. […]

SPY NEWS

Four ex-officials charged in spy case – Taipei Times

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday indicted four retired Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) officials, who are accused of providing China with a list of bureau personnel and other classified materials while attempting to recruit colleagues into a spy network in Taiwan. Prosecutors charged Chang Chao-jan (張超然), Chou Tien-tzu (周天慈) and Wang Ta-wang (王大旺), former colonels at the bureau, and Yueh Chih-chung (岳志忠) — a former major general and chief of the MIB’s Fifth Bureau, where he was in charge of sending agents to China on covert assignments — with breaches of the National Security Act (國家安全法) and the National Intelligence Services […]

SPY NEWS

Former Saudi spy chief denies he stole billions before fleeing to Toronto

A former Saudi spymaster, now living in exile in Toronto, says a lawsuit alleging he embezzled billions of dollars is part of an ongoing campaign of intimidation by Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has issued an order freezing Saad Aljabri’s assets, luxury properties, and bank accounts in Europe, Malta, the British Virgin Islands, the United States and Canada — including his $13-million mansion in Toronto. But in court documents filed Tuesday, Aljabri contends the case is a “politically motivated attack.” “This proceeding is the latest stage of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman’s ongoing efforts to achieve absolute power in Saudi Arabia, masquerading as a commercial dispute in Canada.” Companies tied to the current Saudi regime filed the lawsuit in Toronto on Jan. 22. It alleges Aljabri funnelled security and counterterrorism funds from Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry to himself, his family and associates. “Although the investigation is ongoing, it is clear that from at least 2008 to 2017, Aljabri masterminded and oversaw a conspiracy incorporating at least 21 conspirators across at least 13 jurisdictions to misappropriate at least [$4.3 billion] from the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit states. Power shift in Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has undergone a major powershift since 2017. That year, King Salman removed his nephew, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (MBN) and replaced him with his son Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). MBN was placed under house arrest, accused of plotting a coup. Western analysts say 35-year-old MBS has pushed the Kingdom towards a more aggressive foreign policy, pursuing his enemies at home and abroad with ruthlessness to cement his claim to the throne. Aljabri, 62, was MBN’s chief advisor. As Minister of State and head of security and counterterrorism, he was a key member of the regime. He was stripped of his duties in 2015. Following the power change in 2017, he fled the country and now lives in a mansion on The Bridle Path, one of Canada’s most upscale residential neighbourhoods. Two of Aljabri’s children, Omar and Sarah, 17 and 18 at the time, were detained before they could flee Saudi Arabia in June 2017 on the same day that MBN was removed. They were subsequently charged and convicted of money laundering and are now imprisoned. Aljabri has said there was no evidence to warrant their detention or charges. Aljabri claims he is being targeted as part of a purge of loyalists from a competing branch of the royal family. As a former top intelligence official, he says he has damaging information about the inner workings of the House of Saud. In August, Aljabri sued the Crown Prince in the U.S., alleging MBS sent a hit squad to Canada in 2018 to try to assassinate him and his family, and of holding two of his children hostage in Saudi Arabia. None of the allegations has been proven in court. Hit squad allegedly dispatched to Canada Aljabri declined interview requests. His lawyer said he is reluctant to argue the legal case in the media but said in a statement the family is in a “deadly-serious” fight for their lives. “Within days of the MBS regime engineering the gruesome, cold blooded murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, a team of assassins connected to the MBS regime attempted to enter Canada through Ottawa,” lawyer Paul Le Vay wrote in an email. “They were detected by sharp-eyed airport security officials,” Le Vay wrote. “Had this hit squad gained entry, it is entirely likely that a Khashoggi-style assassination would have taken place on our soil. Every Canadian should be appalled that an autocratic regime sought to use our country as a killing ground to meet its own political ends.” Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian dissident and Washington Post columnist. He was assassinated at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct. 2, 2018. In court records, Aljabri claims the RCMP continues to investigate the alleged assassination attempt on him in Canada. Aljabri said the RCMP has advised him his life remains under threat, recommending 24-hour physical security. A CBC reporter on Thursday spoke with a private security guard outside Aljabri’s mansion from a vehicle idling on the street. The RCMP declined to comment. Alan Treddenick is a former senior Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) officer who was stationed at the Canadian embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Treddenick worked directly with Aljabri on counterterrorism. WATCH | Threats on exiled Saudi official ‘pretty real’ says former CSIS officer: “The threats against the Aljabri family and Saad himself are very real,” Treddenick said, adding that Aljabri had to flee for his life. “In my opinion, he holds the keys to Pandora’s box for the current Crown Prince,” Treddenick said in an interview with CBC News. “Any secrets they have, business dealings, security issues — it is information I’m sure the current Crown Prince wouldn’t want in public.” ‘Overwhelming evidence of fraud:’ Judge On Jan. 22, Canadian lawyers for a conglomerate of 10 state-owned Saudi companies convinced a Toronto judge in an ex-parte, or private, hearing to freeze Aljabri’s world-wide assets. The freezing order application was underpinned by a 156-page forensic audit by Deloitte, two lengthy sworn affidavits, and nearly 7,000 pages of documents. The companies argued Aljabri received unauthorized payments he was prohibited from receiving as a government employee. They allege he set up companies, ostensibly to combat terrorism, but instead funnelled money through them to himself, his family and associates. The plaintiffs allege the auditors uncovered 26 properties in Saudi Arabia, many of which were allegedly gifted to Aljabri’s children, nine luxury properties in the U.S. and others in Geneva and Vienna. The auditors also found two homes in Canada purchased with cash: The Bridlepath house for $13 million and another purchased by Aljabri’s son, Khalid, for nearly $4.5 million. Aljabri’s lawyers filed a motion to immediately lift the freezing order, arguing that the plaintiffs misled the court. On Monday, Superior Court of Ontario Justice Cory Gilmore denied the request. She ruled there was sufficient plausible, but unproven evidence to meet the basic legal threshold for the asset freezing order. She extended the order to Feb. 19 for another full hearing. “There is overwhelming evidence of fraud that has been presented to court,” Gilmore wrote. “In response, I have an affidavit from [Aljabri’s] son, which is more of a political treatise than any concrete response to the serious allegations raised.” The affidavit by Khalid Aljabri contained many of the same allegations, including intimidation and death threats, advanced by Aljabri in his U.S. lawsuit and in his pleadings to the Ontario court. “The Deloitte report and the affidavits and exhibits filed demonstrate that Aljabri used fraudulent means to divert funds that rightfully belonged to the plaintiffs and the Plaintiffs suffered a loss from that conduct,” Gilmore wrote. […]

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Israel gives hero’s welcome to American spy Jonathan Pollard | SAMAA

Jonathan Pollard, an American jailed in the United States in 1985 for spying for Israel, landed in the Jewish state Wednesday to a hero’s welcome led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Pollard, 66, served 30 years in prison for passing on classified documents when he served as a US Navy intelligence analyst, and had been confined to the United States under his parole terms since his 2015 release. After years of Israeli lobbying to allow Pollard, a Jewish American, to leave, the US Justice Department removed the terms and conditions last month. Pollard and his wife Esther arrived in Israel before dawn Wednesday and were seen walking off a plane towards a waiting Netany… […]

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Will The SPY ETF Reach $500 By 2022?

Every week, Benzinga conducts a sentiment survey to find out what traders are most excited about, interested in or thinking about as they manage and build their personal portfolios.We surveyed a group of over 500 investors on whether the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NASDAQ: SPY) will reach $500 by 2022.What Are ETFs? ETF stands for exchange-traded funds. An ETF is an investment fund that trades on a stock exchange along with stocks for individual companies. ETFs track a sector, represent a commodity (like gold, oil or wheat) or sample a basket of stocks or bonds that meet a given criteria.The SPY ETF tracks the S&P 500. Exchange-traded funds are popular with investors given they can help mitigate risk in your portfolio.Tesla S&P Inclusion If you’re concerned the inclusion of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) into the S&P 500 could destabilize the SPY ETF as a whole, consider the EV company represents only 1.6% overall weighting for the index fund.Benzinga recently reported that in a worst-case scenario in which Tesla gives up all its gains from the past two years, it would represent about 90% downside for the stock. At a 1.6% overall weighting for Tesla, that 90% downside would still only translate to a 1.44% decline for the S&P 500.SPY Forecast 2021 Nearly 60% of Benzinga traders and investors told us the SPY ETF would reach $500 by the end of next year. Those who participated in our study said SPY will see strength given the belief the US economy will significantly recover in 2021 and tech stocks will out-perform markets in 2021.As an index fund SPY is indeed tech-dependent- roughly one-third of represented companies in SPY are in the tech sector. Respondents to our study also believe consumer discretionary spending will increase in sympathy with an improving U.S. economy in 2021, led by tech giants Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN).Taking a look at SPY’s weighted average by market capitalization, the three FAANMG companies represent about 17% of the ETF’s market cap as of publishing.See Also: Blue Chip Stocks.This survey was conducted by Benzinga in December 2020 and included the responses of a diverse population of adults 18 or older.Opting into the survey was completely voluntary, with no incentives offered to potential respondents. The study reflects results from over 500 adults.See more from Benzinga * Click here for options trades from Benzinga * Will SmileDirectClub Stock Reach By 2022? * Thinking About Buying Stock In GameStop, Qualcomm, Shell Or Palantir?(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved. […]

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Greek police detain Turk consular official on spy claim

Police in Greece have detained a Turkish consular official on suspicion of spying, a senior Greek source said on Friday, in a case likely to further strain troubled relations between the two NATO allies. Turkey’s foreign ministry swiftly condemned the arrest, saying it violated the consular official’s rights. The official, a Greek national employed with the Turkish consulate on the island of Rhodes, was arrested on Friday after being questioned a week ago. […]

SPY NEWS

The TSA’s secret program to spy on you past security is under fire

On Nov. 25, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a critical report about the TSA’s “Quiet Skies” Program and, speaking candidly, the TSA’s mismanagement of it. Back in 2018, the Boston Globe revealed the existence of the Quiet Skies program designed to have air marshals track suspicious passengers … […]

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SPY NEWS

Judge Orders NYPD Officer Accused of Spying for China Detained Until Trial

A federal judge ruled the 33-year-old NYPD officer accused of acting as an agent for the Chinese government poses a serious risk of flight and ordered him detained pending trial on Wednesday, according to court documents. In a 16-page detention memo, U.S. District Judge Eric Komitee ruled “no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of” Baimadajie… […]