issue Forty Six

 

      

 

  • Published 26 January 2007

     

A brief review of Number 46 now follows....  

LONDON 21 JULY 2005:

FORTUNE, FATE AND THE WRONG BOMB MIXTURE

In November 2006, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, Director General of Britain's MI5, warned that her organisation is currently monitoring 1600 suspected al-Qaida operatives and 200 sleeper cells on mainland Britain. Furthermore, she also revealed that MI5 is tracking an astonishing 30 terror plots in various stages of completion or planning. The British media believe the recent security operation in Birmingham and the arrest of nine individuals is one of the ‘plots' that was being monitored.

A hundred miles or so south of Birmingham, the trial of six men accused of attempting to cause mayhem on the Tube has begun in London. The ‘21/7' bombers as they have become known are adamant they were simply making a ‘political point’. However, there is one photograph, besides a plethora of other evidence, that the men will have difficulty in explaining away. Two days after the suspects failed to detonate bombs on several trains, a park keeper found a suspicious ‘bucket-like’ object under a hedge. It later transpired that a fifth bomber had lost his nerve and discarded the device. Its construction was as lethal as the nails and bolts carefully taped to the outside. The men had made a mistake in mixing the explosives, but at least three detonators did explode.

Like a number of the 7/7 bombers, it again appears at least two of the suspects were under surveillance by MI5 and tracked across the country long before 21 July 2005. Knowing when to dismantle a known terrorist plot still in the planning stage is a highly difficult task. Move too quickly and the authorities may not have gathered sufficient evidence to prosecute. If the police wait too long they risk allowing the terrorists to strike. It's a difficult decision to make. As for the 21/7 suspects, they had fallen outside MI5's radar, but fortune shined on the passengers on several trains that day, unlike just two weeks earlier.

Throughout the trial, new evidence and images have emerged that Eye Spy examines in full.

14 INT: NO ORDINARY SURVEILLANCE UNIT

Gathering intelligence in an urban environment is often seen as a job for mainstream civilian-based security services such as MI5 and the FBI. However, there is one British-based military unit that has a formidable reputation in this field - 14 Int or the ‘Det' - today known as the Special Reconnaissance Regiment. 

Analysts have debated at length if 14 Int was formally recognised - so secret was its work. Formed in the early 1970s, its operatives specialised in undercover surveillance operations in parts of Northern Ireland. These areas - or ‘bad lands’ were off limits and extremely dangerous. Quite simply, regular British Army and police units found intelligence-gathering in these areas almost impossible. And while MI5 and MI6 did have a significance presence, ‘watchers' from various movements were lurking in pubs, clubs and most towns and villages. A wrong turn or a word out of place could prove more than problematic. Some terrorist groups used selective areas for weapons training and hiding firearms, explosives and cash. Occasionally meetings would take place in remote farm buildings or areas where access was almost impossible. For counter-terrorism opportunities, Britain needed a unit that was skilled in tradecraft and highly trained - enter 14 Int. The selection process has been described as ‘shockingly arduous, both physically and intellectually.’ Operatives used pseudonyms, carried no personal identification and the unit itself had no internal ranks.

To make sure the company could function properly, ‘recruits’ were drawn from mainly the Paras, Marines and SAS and other fundamentally ‘safe’ forces. To compliment its ranks, 14 Int also recruited female operatives. This gave the unit more flexibility as female officers could venture into places whereby they would not be noticed. 14 Int operations were based at Detachments (‘Det') to each of the British Army's three Brigades in Northern Ireland. During the conflict, a tour of duty rarely went beyond two years, though many operatives served more than one tour. 

Eye Spy takes a brief look at one of the world's most secret surveillance regiments.  

ABLE DANGER:

US OFFICIALS DISMISS CLAIMS THAT DATA MINING OUTFIT ‘ABLE DANGER' IDENTIFIED 9/11 HIJACKER MOHAMED ATTA

It's been one of the most contentious and hotly disputed issues for a number of years - did the military intelligence outfit known as Able Danger identify the head of the 9/11 terrorist gang months before four airliners were hijacked? Able Danger was the unclassified name given to a military research programme launched in September 1998. The unit was maintained by the US Special Operations Command as part of a wider effort to research and understand terrorist organisations, their leadership, and liaisons with other terrorist networks.

The brainchild of US Army General Peter Schoomaker, former head of the Special Operations Command, Able Danger charted the terrorist threat matrix using high-end technology and clever surveillance methods. According to some, this unit probed deeper than the FBI and CIA in respect of actual foot and electronic surveillance of al-Qaida suspects.

In 2006, Eye Spy travelled to the United States to listen to information divulged by Mark Zaid, the lawyer of a former member of the unit. In this feature we discuss the findings of on an investigative committee established to examine the evidence and learn exactly why they rejected the Able Danger 9-11 thread... 

SPYING ON AMERICA:

DEFENCE CONTRACTORS FALLING VICTIM TO SPIES - 1000 TIMES

Intelligence officials in Washington have warned that dozens of countries are using every possible trick in the ‘book of espionage’, to obtain US technological and military secrets, including ‘honeytraps' and tiny radio transmitters hidden inside coins. In a 12-month period between 2005 and 2006, officials identified 971 attempts to obtain US secrets through espionage. 

A 30-page report prepared by the Defense Security Service Counterintelligence Office (DSS) - a security agency that helps protect the defence industry from foreign espionage, does not mention any specific country, but insiders say the ‘professional spies’ originate predominantly from China, parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. One hundred and six countries are currently engaged in ‘collection activity,’ according to the DSS. However, Eye Spy has learned that some Pentagon officials also blame official intelligence agencies from ‘friendly' countries.

One of the most audacious attempts to gather intelligence surfaced when contractors found tiny bugs in coins acquired after a visit to Canada. Some intelligence analysts believed it was Canadian intelligence who had bugged the men, a claim rejected by CSIS.

Eye Spy digests the content of the report, analyses the tradecraft used by the spies and identifies the most ‘sought after’ technology.

TRADECRAFT

GHOST VEHICLES:

Eye Spy examines some of the tradecraft used by operatives in vehicle surveillance

At some point in time in your driving career you will be asked by a friend, colleague or family member to ‘follow me.’ Depending on a variety of factors your journey will be easy, fairly easy, moderate, difficult... or impossible. Imagine therefore trying to follow a car without being seen for several hours. Add to that you must conduct a running commentary, and at some stage you might be asked to follow on foot. Ultimately, some government officers may also have to interact with the person under surveillance. For the security services, tracking a car covertly is at best complex. It's made particularly difficult if the driver or occupants in the target vehicle suspect they are under surveillance, or if the individual has colleagues performing anti-surveillance. The odds of an operation being compromised are lessened by correct vehicle selection, driving appropriately and communicating properly with colleagues. 

Some analysts believe it's easier to track a car on an open road or motorway. Other surveillance officers think differently, and prefer to follow in built-up areas. The truth is, neither option is easy. Both scenarios can be affected by an array of situations. On a long motorway journey speed may be a factor; road traffic works can mean congestion and a slower pace. In an urban environment speeds are slower because of traffic lights, junctions, pedestrians, and increased traffic; the chance of losing sight of the vehicle increases dramatically if a surveillance driver loses concentration - even for a moment. This is one reason, but not the only one, why a professional surveillance operation will always involve several operatives and vehicles. At any point the suspect could stop and proceed on foot, thus vehicles will often carry more than one officer - just in case the surveillance has to be continued on foot. A second officer can provide commentary by radio, allowing the driver to focus on the road. He will deliver clear instructions calmly and without hesitation. Many surveillance vehicles now have the added bonus of satellite navigation systems, but professional operatives often avoid using these devices during an intense operation.

But the biggest threat to any surveillance is if the same vehicle is noticed on multiple occasions. Thankfully, by driving correctly and choosing the ‘right car’, it's possible to avoid detection.

There are other lesser known factors which can ruin vehicle surveillance. Surveillance is equally as vulnerable when stationary or waiting for the target to depart. Not wearing a seat belt can attract attention. Parking on a yellow line (even briefly), may soon incur the wrath of a traffic warden. Sipping coffee, eating or using a cell phone while at the wheel and in motion is distracting: in the UK, it's also illegal and if seen, the car will be stopped.

Eye Spy analysts present a fantastic information-packed feature on some of the techniques used in vehicle surveillance.

AGENT ZIGZAG:

THE PLOT TO ASSASSINATE ADOLF HITLER 

A British double agent's rejected plan to kill Adolf Hitler in a suicide mission, has been revealed in documents released by Britain's National Archive. Former safe breaker and villain Edward Chapman, better known in the intelligence world as agent Zigzag, had offered to assassinate the Nazi leader at a rally. He had previously been taught his tradecraft by the Abweher (German military intelligence) at La Bretonniere, near Nantes, France, after they found him in a Jersey prison following the 1940 invasion of the island. Eye Spy looks at what could have been a most amazing coup for British intelligence.

MYSTERY OF COMMANDER CRABB:

NEW INTELLIGENCE RELEASED ON MI6 DIVER

In April 1956, three powerful Soviet warships docked in Portsmouth Harbour. MI6 engaged in a secret mission to gather intelligence on the VESSEL Ordzhonikidze... but things didn't go exactly to plan, and one of Britain's most experienced maritime spies went missing...

It's one of Britain's most enduring spy mysteries - what really happened to MI6 spy - Commander Lionel Kenneth Philip ‘Buster' Crabb. The specialist diver simply vanished in Portsmouth Harbour while attempting to gather intelligence on the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze, and her destroyer escorts Smotriaschi, and Sovershenny. The ships had brought Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev to Britain on a diplomatic mission at the height of the Cold War in 1956. The fate of the frogman has been a topic of discussion for intelligence researchers for decades. Some experts believe he was shot dead as he tried to scale a Russian ship, while others contend he was captured and secretly taken to Moscow for interrogation. Perhaps the most extraordinary theory was that Crabb worked for the KGB as a double agent. Fearing his secret life was about to be exposed, Crabb ‘devised a plan’ whereby he would be ‘caught’ and taken to Moscow. Twelve months later a headless body was found floating in the sea a few miles away. Was it really Crabb?  

Crabb, born 28 January 1909, was regarded by many Britons as a war hero. But according to his family ‘was abandoned by his country’ following events in 1956. Now some fifty years after the incident, the National Archive has released a plethora of documents that surround his final mission.

The material contained within reveal deceit, confusion and an elaborate attempt to withhold information from the public - and the Prime Minister. Eye Spy examines the documents that hold a vital clue...

SKY HIGH THREAT TO CHANNEL TUNNEL:

FRENCH AND US INTELLIGENCE WARN OF TUNNEL PLOT 

A leaked intelligence file prompted an admission by France's DGSE, that the 31-mile tunnel connecting England and France has been targeted by al-Qaida terrorists for attack. Since its opening in 1994, anti-terrorist officials have been concerned about the possibility of a terrorist strike. However, the tunnel, which hosts the high-speed Eurostar passenger train between Waterloo Station in London and Paris, has become an attractive al-Qaida target following an array of tough protection measures introduced in civil aviation.

 Eye Spy looks at the intercepted ‘chatter’. 

LITVINENKO:

WHO FIRED THE ‘MAGIC BULLET'? 

The cast of characters involved in the assassination of Aleksander Litvinenko continues to grow, so too does the number of people treated for radiation poisoning - but who really ‘delivered' the radioactive isotope Polonium-210 and why?

A few grainy frames taken off a Heathrow CCTV film and a decidedly ‘dangerous’ teapot hold the key to finding the killer of former FSB (Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti - Federal Security Service) officer Aleksander Litvinenko in London. British investigators have had to tread a political tightrope to establish just what happened in the weeks leading upto Litvinenko's death. However, despite little support from Downing Street, Scotland Yard detectives believe they have finally traced all the relevant players, and it's clear the case has international dimensions. What can be confirmed, is that the Polonium-210 used to assassinate the Russian was not ‘delivered' to him in the Itsu sushi bar. By the time he met his friend and colleague, Italian spy writer Mario Scaramella, on 1 November, he was effectively already dead. 

The murder of Litvinenko has provided the media with an opportunity to discuss espionage, dirty tricks, tradecraft and more - they're even rushing in Hollywood to be first to produce a movie. Critics of Moscow and President Putin believe the poisoning of Litvinenko was state sanctioned and a tirade of hate has been directed towards the Kremlin. But experienced journalists watched the reaction of MI5 and Scotland Yard, and more importantly, the Government.

Eye Spy provides the latest information on the case using our London contacts who are familiar with the case.

SPYING FROM THE ALTER:

THE POLISH CHURCH SPY AFFAIR 

Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, 67, the new Catholic prelate of Warsaw, resigned after he initially dismissed accusations that he spied for Poland's infamous Communist security service - Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa (SB). ‘In accordance with (Canon law) I submit to your Holiness my resignation as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Warsaw,’ wrote Wielgus. Wielgus's name reportedly appeared several times in files recently released by Polish officials’ intent on ‘brushing away’ the country's former ties with Moscow and the KGB.  

Eye Spy looks at the Vatican connection to the SB and other ‘church agents', including Rev. Jerzy Popieluszko, assassinated for his support of Poland's emerging trade union Solidarity, and Rev. Mieczyslaw Malinski - SB codename ‘Delta'.

 NUCLEAR CHECKMATE:

ISRAELI AIR FORCE READY TO STRIKE IRANIAN NUCLEAR SITES

The last time a nuclear weapon was used in anger was 1945, but according to several high-placed military sources, Israel has finalised its plans to strike Iran's uranium enrichment sites with tactical nuclear missiles. Though only about 20% as powerful as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the devices would follow conventional laser-guided missiles into the ground above a number of buried sites. Three sites have already been identified by spy satellites, including Arak, which will soon be able to manufacture more than enough plutonium for a nuclear bomb.

Special units from the Israeli Air Force have already carried out ‘dummy attack runs', though it was believed that any operation would involve conventional weapons. Now reports claim two squadrons based at Hatzerim and Tel Nof in Israel have been trained to deliver the tactical nuclear missiles. That training has reportedly been overseen by the service's commander - Major General Eliezer Shkedi. Tel Nof, located near Rehovot, is home to a number of Special Forces units and has allegedly been on high alert for decades. A number of unconfirmed reports claim it is in and around Tel Nof, that Israel stores some of its nuclear weapons.

Intelligence sources believe Iran has gleaned much valuable information from North Korea about its underground test in 2006. Some observers believe a site in Iran - well away from the prying eyes of reconnaissance satellites has already been chosen to host Iran's first nuclear test.

Has Israel the capability to launch an operation and stop the test? And what of Iran's response?

SPYMASTERS TO STEP DOWN:

UK AND USA INTEL RESIGNATIONS 

After serving for more than three decades in MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller announced she is resigning from her post as Director-General. Dame Eliza, only the second female to command the Security Service released a statement on 14 December:

‘By April 2007 I shall have been an officer of the Security Service for 33 years, the last 10 as either deputy director general or director general. I decided in early 2005 that it would be time by then to stand down.

 ‘I have been privileged to lead the service when it is facing the two challenges of a very serious threat and the consequent need to grow and change at a dramatic rate to tackle that threat. I am confident that the service will continue to serve the UK to the best of its ability. I shall watch its progress with great interest.’

 In America, National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, who was closely involved with US policy on Iraq, has decided to step down to become No. 2 to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Negroponte was appointed America's first intelligence chief in April 2005, and was responsible for overseeing all 16 major USA spy agencies.

Eye Spy takes a look back at the achievements of both spymasters.

POPPY AND GRAB:

LETTER FROM FORT MEADE 

On 14 December 2006, a new exhibit was dedicated at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. The twin subjects of this display are a pair of reconnaissance satellites - GRAB and POPPY. Deployment of GRAB (Galactic Radiation and Background), the world's first reconnaissance satellite and a design product of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), was in the final stages of development at the time of the loss of Gary Powers U-2 spy plane on 1 May 1960. Following the U-2's shoot-down, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the cancellation of all further reconnaissance flights over the Soviet Union, the void to be filled with a series of satellite launches.

A colourful feature containing some fascinating images and facts.

AC-130 CORRIDOR:

SPECIAL FORCES TARGET EMBASSY BOMBING MASTERMIND

CIA analysts tracking events in Somalia have targeted locations in the south of the country where four senior al-Qaida fighters have been operating. Gathering intelligence in the war-torn country is regarded as highly dangerous, and in many ways even beyond the CIA, but when news reached Langley that one of the FBI's ‘most wanted’, had been seen in the area, military commanders lost no time in organising a major strike.  

Intelligence led AC-130 gunships to a forested area where the masterminds of the 7 August 1998 terrorist bombings of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, were supposedly hiding. Among them - Fazul Abdullah Mohammed - the al-Qaida commander and prime suspect in the attacks that resulted in 257 deaths - the majority of them African workers.

The operation to squeeze al-Qaida forces into a ‘corridor' was complex and multifaceted - but it transpired that Fazul was not the primary target of AC-130 gunships - so who was it?

OPERATION PAGET:

POLICE INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH OF DIANA - CONCLUSION

Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens, has concluded his three-year investigation into the death of Princess Diana. The former Scotland Yard supremo, known for his honesty and integrity has ruled that Diana died as a result of an accident.

Diana died along with her lover Dodi Fayed and her chauffeur Henri Paul, when their car struck a concrete pillar in the Pont d'Alma Paris underpass on 31 August 1997. The other passenger, bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones survived. For nearly ten years conspiracy theories have abounded, with claim and counter claim, the most controversial being that Diana was murdered by a rogue element in British intelligence on the orders of her former husband, and heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles.

Lord Stevens was given access to all MI5 and MI6 records relating to the incident. The investigative team interviewed over 300 witnesses, some for the first time. They also conducted over 500 ‘actions' and collected more than 600 exhibits, including the wreckage of the Mercedes vehicle.           

FBI'S MOST WANTED:

A LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF FBI WANTED POSTERS

On 2 December 1919, a 23-year-old soldier named William N. Bishop slipped out of the stockade at Camp A. A. Humphreys - today's Fort Belvoir - in northern Virginia. Little did anyone know at the time, but that escape set in motion a chain of events that would forever change how the FBI and its partners fight crime.  

Shortly after Bishop's getaway, the Military Intelligence Division - established during World War One by the US Army - requested the FBI's help in finding him. One of the Bureau's early assistant directors, Frank Burke, responded by sending a letter to ‘All Special Agents, Special Employees and Local Officers’ asking them to ‘make every effort’ to capture Bishop.

A poignant look back at some of the notable villains who helped define the ‘Wanted Poster'!

FINANCIAL WARFARE:

THE TERRORISTS ULTIMATE WEAPON 

In a statement by Osama Bin Laden, it was made very clear he intended to strike at the West financially and ‘bankrupt the United States’. In the new order of UnRestricted Warfare, an attack on the financial infrastructures and resources of nations remains one of the most feared and effective modalities in the tool box of terrorists and rogue nation states. However, most people do not view financial institutions as a part of an enemy's attack plan, even in the 21st century. While financial attacks of this nature have occurred in the past, the globalisation and integration of financial systems and the ubiquitous nature of the internet has increased the impact of these types of attacks and increased the likelihood that they will occur.ÊCurrent trends indicate an increased level of sophistication and coordination of attacks with initiation points coming from multiple locations and countries. Some experts believe a financial attack has only a slim chance of success. This training feature by Eye Spy's associate editor Kevin Coleman explores the financial warfare modality of UnRestricted Warfare and whether such attacks have the footprint of success.

The feature also analyses hacking, rogue traders and counterfeiters. Plus a special sidebar on how to identify counterfeit money.

IRAN, MI5 AND ESPIONAGE:

SPY GAMES IN AFGHANISTAN? 

Following an intelligence tip-off, MI5 counter-espionage officers launched an operation which ultimately led to the arrest of a military aide to Lt. General David Richards - commander of British and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Corporal Daniel James, 44, is charged under the 1911 Official Secrets Act with ‘prejudicing the safety of the state by passing information calculated to be directly or indirectly useful to the enemy’.

Intelligence sources believe James allegedly communicated with an Iranian spy on 2 November 2006.

MI5 WARN ON DEADLY VIRUSES:

OFFICIALS AIM TO TIGHTEN LAB SECURITY 

It's a subject few ministers touch upon, but MI5 has ordered many of the UK scientific laboratories to increase security. Most vulnerable are facilities contained within universities. Besides asking security staff to monitor stocks more aggressively, MI5 has requested that any personnel with access to biological agents such as polio, rabies, tuberculosis and bird flu, be vetted thoroughly.  

In 2002, Eye Spy learned that MI5 sent security advisors to many of Britain's laboratories after intelligence suggested al-Qaida was determined to acquire a germ warfare capability. With a number of universities already infiltrated by the terror group, some officials believe it is only a matter of time before a sleeper cell obtains a deadly virus or bacteria. Throughout central London security officials have installed highly advanced devices to test for air quality. These units are also in place on the Underground.

In future, any facility handling viruses, including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, will be checked by specialists from the Home Office.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

SAS DEPLOYS IN LONDON

The Special Air Service has deployed a unit in London in the event of terrorist attacks

FBI IN ‘NUCLEAR STING'

FBI agents help in Georgian undercover sting to arrest ‘nuclear rogue trader'

E-MAILS TO WARN OF TERROR ATTACKS

MI5 launches new e-mail alert system to advise public

CIA STATION CHIEF

Italian authorities seize villa belonging to CIA officer involved with alleged kidnapping

MOSSAD

A former Mossad agent is tipped to become Israel's new Prime Minister

LITVINENKO'S KILLER ‘WILL DIE’

Former KGB officer Oleg Gordievsky said assassin will be dead in three years 

EXECUTIVE DECISION

An inquiry has ruled there was collusion between police and paramilitaries in Northern Ireland

INTEL, ESPIONAGE AND LANGUAGE

Several intelligence services have admitted they have few Arabic-speaking experienced linguists

BEWARE GREEKS BEARING GIFTS

A look at the KGB bug found in the US Embassy in Russia

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