issue sixty six
Published 25 December 2009
EDITORIAL BRIEF NOTES
DANGEROUS SKIES, DANGEROUS TIMES
There is a most disturbing and highly secret report being poured over by intelligence analysts around the world... al-Qaida has embarked upon a terror programme that involves operatives having explosives sewn into their bodies - the resultant scar tissue made to look like any post-operation mark. We don’t mind delivering this news, because the public are entitled to know. This menacing move is to defeat security measures at airports around the world and create havoc and fear in the skies. Three months ago an intel report from the CIA warned that the terror group’s bombers were in training with their handlers to ingest explosives, but the new memo is by far more alarming. Eye Spy has since learned the bombs are designed in such a fashion they can be detonated by cell phones.
Al-Qaida and its followers are now resorting to methods never seen or confronted before by counter-terrorist organisations. Moves are afoot to address this hitherto unknown scenario.
Perhaps equally alarming are the actions and screams of civil liberty groups and human rights’ activists who have voiced concern over the new millimeter wave scanners that are being installed in many airports. That they can see “private parts” and are “intrusive” are just some of the comments being made. What absolute nonsense and naivety. It seems to me that some folks seem oblivious to the chilling plots currently being hatched by al-Qaida against all air travellers, regardless of their race, religion, colour or creed. These are dangerous times and the authorities must do everything possible to protect ALL passengers. And if a 15-second scan is required, then so be it. If persons don’t want to do this... then can I suggest a boat or shank’s pony.
In the last few months al-Qaida operations against the free world have increased. Its operatives killed six CIA staffers in Afghanistan in a ruse drawn from the training book of the Agency itself. They have launched Mumbai-type attacks in several cities; attempted to bring down an airliner over Detroit, while a terror supporter from within the ranks of the US Army itself shot dead 14 base personnel at Fort Hood. There are dozens more instances of active terror cells and lone operatives launching attacks, including an assassination attempt in Denmark, the blowing up of a train in America, and the crashing of an airliner on London, New York or Washington DC.
Worryingly, are the contents of three UK intelligences files that have been circulating around Whitehall for the last few weeks. One notes that the Ministry of Defence and its armed forces may soon be fighting a new kind of war... an unconventional war that may in part be played out on the streets of Britain. The second concerns a genuine fear that a chemical or biological attack will take place sooner rather than later. And thirdly, that the threat of terrorism in the UK at least, is not being properly addressed or at the very least, is not understood by some government ministers.
And while all of this goes on, there are some who argue airport scanners that can see all the bumps and lumps should not be used. Astonishing.
In this edition of Eye Spy we take a look at recent terrorist events associated with air travel, and the efforts currently on-going to protect travellers. There’s also our usual serving of espionage, intelligence and associated stories.
Mark Birdsall - Editor
THE DETROIT OPERATION
WORLDWIDE HUNT FOR “SPECIALIST TERRORISTS”
Eye Spy has learned that several intelligence service heads, including the D/CIA, secretly met in London to discuss the circumstances that allowed a suspected terrorist operative to fly to America and almost bring down a packed airliner carrying nearly 300 passengers over the city of Detroit. Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who until recently studied mechanical engineering at the University College London (UCL), was almost the perfect operative - and once again showed how the terror group has fashioned a system to beat even the best security in Europe and America.
The plot, though hatched in Yemen, Africa, sadly reveals how London has become central to al-Qaida’s recruiting and planning arm, despite initial Foreign Office messages to the contrary. Here, al-Qaida has fashioned an underworld to recruit and hide, and then send its operatives to locations across the globe. Abdulmutallab undoubtedly met his al-Qaida contact man in the UK, probably a loose associate of US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the crazed terrorist sympathiser who gunned down 14 army base personnel at Fort Hood in November 2009.
Abdulmutallab was trained along with 20 other people in Yemen to carry explosives on their person and bring down aircraft. It is our understanding the terrorist was told to detonate his bomb as the airliner made its final approach to Detroit International. NSA listeners using the Service’s powerful intercept system - ECHELON, had picked up “chatter” weeks earlier stating - “...it will be like lighting up a Christmas tree on Christmas Day. And though the data was passed to the relevant security services, it could not be linked to Abdulmutallab in Yemen. More relevant intelligence picked up by the US Intelligence Community is published in Eye Spy’s story.
As for al-Qaida’s Yemen-based planners, they easily circumnavigated poor security and intelligence measures designed to stop suspected terrorists boarding flights to the West - this by selecting a route to the USA designed to bypass US watchers. Some of Abdulmutallab’s fellow “terror cell students” fled after elements of the CIA’s Trans Sahara unit targeted a training camp only to turn up in India. Here, that country’s intelligence service - RAW, exposed another fiendish airline plot. This forced MI5 and the FBI to act. Eye Spy reveals just what al-Qaida had planned.
The background on this case, Abdulmutallab’s liaisons in London and elsewhere, plus the inside story of the Detroit and Indian plots. And how the US and UK intelligence services’ research mechanism failed to spot the fabulously rich “baby-faced” bomber.
THE SYRINGE BOMBERS: EYE SPY IDENTIFIES NEW BOMB DELIVERY SYSTEM
Terror group is receiving guidance from a menacing new teacher
When CIA agents searched one abandoned al-Qaida camp following bin-Laden’s quick exit from Afghanistan in late 2001, they discovered all the trappings of a macabre human and animal research and experimental test laboratory. However, they also found many documents which clearly showed whoever was there, had a good deal of experience in engineering, medicine and explosives. In short, they were professionals.
EXTRACT: “...MI5 and the FBI knew that Abdulmutallab was not the first al-Qaida operative to use the “syringe IED”. The terror group had trained its operatives to use this detonation method in the failed July 2007 London plot and....”
THE OPERATIVE WITH A MOST UNUSUAL STORY TO TELL
David Coleman Headley, a US national linked to a terror plot to attack the Danish newspaper responsible for publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, has also been implicated in the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) attack on the city of Mumbai in November 2008, that left 173 people dead. Since his arrest on 3 October 2009, in the USA, a number of sources have claimed Headley has a US intelligence background... Eye Spy investigates.
CULT OF CONSPIRACY
CALLS TO REOPEN FILE ON DEATH OF DR DAVID KELLY
The circumstances surrounding the death of Ministry of Defence contract scientist - Dr David Kelly, famously remembered as the man who originally found Saddam’s deadly anthrax stockpiles following the first Gulf War, remains a topic for debate and gross opportunism, and sadly, the odd foolhardy hoaxer. However, there are several eminent professionals who still believe not all has been revealed about his sudden death.
Kelly provided Andrew Gilligan, then a journalist with the BBC, with a deep insight into the government’s claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and that it was capable of launching an attack on the West in just 45 minutes. Kelly said the “dossier” which held the findings, was both inaccurate and dramatic in nature, and should not be considered 100 per cent bona fide. These words were spoken at a secret meeting in the Charing Cross Hotel, London, and soon appeared in the wider media: the phrase “sexed up WMD dossier” was being spoken during every news bulletin.
After immense pressure from the government and his employer, Dr Kelly killed himself in woodland near his home in Oxford. That’s the official version, but now there is real pressure to look again at the evidence and if the book is reopened, some researchers believe there will be lots of awkward questions to answer...
INTELLIGENCE IN CAMERAS
US LOSES PATIENCE WITH SECOND-RATE AIRPORT SECURITY
Following the latest attempt to cause mass casualties by way of an aeroplane bomb, America’s security services have introduced new counter-measures that have been mooted for years, stalled only by the concerns of a few misguided civil liberty groups more interested with human rights’ and ‘personal privacy’ rather than passenger safety. One piece of technology is the millimeter wave scanner that provides far greater detail than conventional x-ray machines. This alone, however, might not have prevented al-Qaida bomber Abdulmutallab from passing through Schiphol Airport unnoticed.
The UK’s chief security man - Lord West, said he wants to see more “sniffer dogs” at airport check-ins. “The dogs would have been alerted to Abdulmutallab by way of the explosives he was carrying,” said Lord West. “It’s unlikely x-ray machines would have picked him out.” As for delays caused by additional security checks, including going through the “see all” millimeter wave scanner, most passengers were concerned only in safety. Eye Spy looks at the technology being introduced at airports.
Eye Spy examines the challenges facing the intelligence and security world in respect of air passenger safety as it battles with an ever more cunning and dangerous opponent. But what are the countermeasures currently deployed by the world’s most secure airline - El Al?
EXTRACT: What’s not widely known is that al-Qaida has set about recruiting people who will swallow tubes of explosives, or insert them into body orifices and then board the aircraft... There is even a CIA report suggesting bombs are being implanted into people’s bodies by surgeons to avoid detection. Once airborne the bombs are keyed in such a manner that they can be detonated using a cell phone. The CIA has also learned of another proposed detonation method that involves drinking a substance, but for security reasons can’t be divulged here.
Most regulations surrounding the carrying of cell phones in hand luggage have long since been dropped and passengers are allowed to take such devices on board, indeed many airlines even allow their use. It’s the same with plasticated bottled fluids. These are facts that the public are entitled to know - but there is more...
OPENING PANDORA’S BOX - A5/1 CHAOS?
CELL PHONE SECURITY CODE CRACKED
Before an announcement from Germany, that incidentally should concern about 80% of the world’s cell phone users, few people had ever heard of Karsten Nohl. He’s a German computer expert who just happens to be very good at cracking the algorithm used to encrypt calls using GSM-based technology (amongst other things). In January 2010, Nohl declared he had broken a code that was regarded by most security experts as “untouchable”. Using a batch of joined-up computers, a few friends (some would call them hackers) and a little patience, Nohl’s team quietly number crunched billions of numbers and combinations - the secret codes which protect most cell phones. And then suddenly the data made sense. Before a host of interested parties could voice their objections, Nohl uploaded his research on to the Internet - much to the delight of the hacking world.
Eye Spy looks at the implications of Nohl’s work and also provides a revealing insight into just how easy it is to bug a cell phone and listen in... and now it can be done for about £1,500 and from anywhere in the world... we reveal how!
PENTAGON INTELLIGENCE CLASH WITH CIA
A senior Pentagon intelligence official has criticised the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies over their policy in Afghanistan and says “agencies simply want to take out al-Qaida and the Taliban...”
CIA FIELD STATION SECURITY BREACHED
Security was breached at a front-line US military and intelligence base in eastern Afghanistan by the Taliban and al-Qaida in a deadly attack which left six CIA employees, including three senior officers, dead. A GID (Jordanian Intelligence) officer named as Captain Ali bin Zaid, who was a member of the country’s royal family, also perished. Several other personnel were slightly injured in a carefully planned operation that took al-Qaida planners months to prepare, and one which has raised many questions about the Agency’s use of “third party” agents.
Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, was both a doctor and al-Qaida operative who came from the same village as the notorious Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the deceased head of al-Qaida in Iraq. Al-Balawi was captured by Jordanian forces in 2009, and had agreed to help both the CIA, and Jordan’s intelligence service - GID in the heart of Afghanistan. His dangerous role was stage-managed and enabled him to first make contact with the Taliban and then infiltrate its and al-Qaida’s hierarchy. Indeed, Al-Balawi, 36, had been in Afghanistan for several months mixing with hardened terrorists, visiting villages and identifying targets for the CIA. Controlled by Zaid, his Jordanian handler, Langley believed he was providing excellent intelligence to the CIA.
But it was all a ruse, and besides the biggest loss of CIA agents since the 1980s, Langley is now analysing a great deal of information given to them by Al-Balawi which is almost certainly disinformation.
Eye Spy examines in detail how some of the Agency’s most experienced field officers were seemingly duped...
ALEC STATION VETERAN KILLED BY ROGUE AGENT
Unnamed CIA man from the first dedicated Agency unit created to find Osama bin-Laden - code-named Alec Station - killed as he considered the possibility he may be closing in on al-Qaida’s long-time deputy - Ayman al-Zawahiri
EXTRACT: Retired CIA staffers say Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi’s actions in outflanking the CIA at Forward Operations Base Chapman (FOBC), were carefully managed by al-Qaida’s planners.
Other Langley officials have quietly admitted that several key intelligence procedures were not followed - the primary one being never meet with an informant or agent at a base or field station. “Taliban and al-Qaida spies are everywhere in Afghanistan - even entering and working on our own bases,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Tony Shaffer, a trained intelligence officer with threads to the CIA and DIA. “Al-Balawi’s coming and goings would have been reported upon by these spies.” This was countered by CIA Director Leon Panetta who said the situation in this part of the world was very different to those where such “rules” apply. “In the barren landscape outside Khost, things such as ‘safe’ houses - a staple of traditional espionage - are not easily found,” said Panetta. “This was not a question of trusting a potential intelligence asset, even one who had provided information that we could verify independently. It is never that simple, and no one ignored the hazards.”
Eye Spy provides a deep insight into the “promise” that lured CIA officers straight into a trap...
MIND CONTROL PRINCIPLES IN THE INTELLIGENCE WORLD - PART 3
Mike Finn takes a serious and objective look at mind control and manipulation in the intelligence game..
Finn looks at the way in which certain chemicals and drugs can and have been used to control a person’s mind, and how others can effect those making important decisions.
EXTRACT: I remember as a police officer in the 1960s, attempting to rescue a girl on a window ledge, who saw everyone who approached her as a giant spider. Apart from the disturbing trips themselves, there is the ‘knock-on’ effect of potential danger or death during the negative side of these altered states of consciousness. The use of drugs and chemicals in mind control experiments is an undeniable fact, various nations have and are exploring many avenues of viability. I will try to present a simplistic overview of the use of drugs and chemicals in mind manipulation.
DE FACTO CIA STATION CHIEF
HERO: CANADIAN DIPLOMAT WAS CIA’S “EYES AND EARS”
28 January 2010, marked the 30th anniversary of an event that stunned the world, when Canada’s ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, masterminded the exfiltration of US diplomats from Tehran. Now, intelligence watchers are warning that the Canadian Embassy in Iran could be perceived as a “nest of spies” after it emerged Taylor had also been providing intelligence to Washington officials during the Islamic revolution.
Trent University historian Robert Wright, author of Our Man in Tehran, has written an account of the incident which suggests then Prime Minister Joe Clark, insisted Taylor’s spying be kept secret. He was concerned the business would create huge “negative political fallout” if the Canadian public learned that one of its envoys was effectively acting as an agent of the CIA. President Jimmy Carter had approached premier Joe Clark and requested that Taylor forward information that would help prepare the way for a most dangerous hostage rescue mission code-named Operation Eagle Claw.
Eye Spy walks back in time to examine Taylor’s heroic role in an affair that stunned the world and his secret role as the “eyes and ears” of the Central Intelligence Agency - or a “De Facto Station Chief”. Plus some fascinating facts and imagery of the failed operation that cost the lives of several US Special Forces soldiers.
CONNECTIONS: PRE-EMPTIVE CYBER STRIKES
PENTAGON MUSES TAKING DOWN 15,000 “AL-QAIDA WEB SITES”
Senior Eye Spy US Associate Editor - Kevin Coleman examines a plethora of data which suggests the Pentagon is unsure whether it is right to consider launching pre-emptive cyber strikes on thousands of Internet web sites showing an affiliation or support of the al-Qaida terror group.
Coleman also provides plenty of case files that proves Osama bin-Laden has a growing number of supporters in the USA itself, and that in itself is evidence Washington needs to act quickly.
THE NEW PROFESSIONALS
100 YEARS OF BRITISH SECRET SERVICE
In the early 1970s, British Intelligence found itself at war with a most formidable and dangerous foe - the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The experience gleaned in fighting an unseen enemy and countering the terror group’s many overseas liaisons, would help MI5 and MI6 in future years. The IRA often targeted the Services’ senior personnel, but more generally the agents and informants who provided vital intelligence. The ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, as they were known, was definitely not a sideshow, but the Secret Service was still battling all manner of adversaries in the great game of espionage... what emerged from these turbulent times were the “THE NEW PROFESSIONALS”.
This is the penultimate feature in Eye Spy’s year-long look at the birth, emergence and role of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6) and Security Service (MI5)....
EXTRACT ONE: Reports started to emerge that the Soviet Navy, acting on instructions from the KGB, had in fact sunk the Gaul, or that she had been struck by a nuclear submarine. There were also persistent rumours in the docks of Hull, that MI6 were “embedding” officers and training fishermen to spy and take photographs of Soviet ships. And when it was acknowledged in 2001, that a Hull sailor, a recruiter for trawlers, by the name of ‘Commander Brookes’ was in fact an MI6 officer, many observers thought the Gaul had been targeted by the Russians. It was later revealed in government papers, that as many as 40 Hull-based trawlers had “carried MI6 men”.
“Today we were unlucky... but remember, we only have to be lucky once. You have to be lucky always...”
IRA STATEMENT 13 OCTOBER 1984 - following bombing of Grand Hotel, Brighton
EXTRACT TWO: The terror group’s most audacious attack happened in Brighton on 12 October 1984. Experienced IRA man Patrick Magee had booked into the Grand Hotel using a false name (Roy Walsh) weeks before the hotel hosted the Conservative Government’s annual conference. He hid a powerful bomb in the upper part of the hotel hoping that once detonated, Mrs Thatcher and her entire Cabinet would be killed. And the operation almost worked... the premier’s room was damaged, and five people, including MP Sir Anthony Berry, were killed. The next day an IRA statement was issued and included a sentence which is often used today by counter-terrorist men reflecting on thwarted attacks: “Today we were unlucky... but remember, we only have to be lucky once. You have to be lucky always...”
Eye Spy interviews surveillance authority Peter Jenkins about his new book - Surveillance Tradecraft.
EXTRACT: Eye Spy: There is a stereotype in many minds of what constitutes the ‘typical’ surveillance operator. Is there a ‘typical’ type?
PJ: The less “James Bond” the better. Remember, the key is NOT to be seen... there’s also a big demand for female operators and over the past two years some of the best operators we’ve had have been female. It’s also important to be able to multi task. There are so many things going on at once - maybe that’s why women do so well. You have to think tactically behind the target; give an accurate radio commentary to colleagues, and react to the target accordingly. If the target stops, you have to get in the best position possible so that you aren’t noticed; a position from where you can video, then identify any hazards from third parties and plan to get out on foot all in a split second. Doing all those things correctly at once can be very stressful....
NEW RESEARCH PROMPTS DEBATE
Swiss bank accounts, JSO operations and new bomb blast evidence create debate
A BBC film for its premier news programme - Newsnight, produced by Peter Marshall, has reopened the debate on a tiny fragment originating from a bomb timer, which helped convict Libyan JSO agent Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi
Critics and conspiracy theorists say al-Megrahi was “fitted up” by the CIA and British Intelligence, but even if one was to remove the fragment data, much evidence against the Libyan Intelligence outfit - the JSO, still exists.
For example, Libya has always maintained that al-Megrahi was a “bit player” a “low-key airline agent” who operated in regions not thought crucial to Tripoli - hence his posting to Malta. This has always been rejected by the FBI and CIA, who linked the operative to several key parts of the Lockerbie operation. Indeed, Eye Spy has learned that far from being an “ordinary employee”, it has emerged he had nearly £2 million tucked away in a Swiss bank account in 2000. One politician, Ben Wallace, commenting on the discovery of the monies said: “I think this suggests that al-Megrahi far from being the wrong man, was an international co-ordinator of terrorism for Libya.”
Eye Spy also looks at vital evidence and some interesting facts about al-Megrahi and his financial status that were never disclosed at his trial.
LEADERSHIP FOR CYBER MILITARIES
Kevin Coleman, one of the world’s leading authorities on Internet security has published a most controversial book that exposes a plethora of failing that he insists must be confronted with urgency...
EXTRACT: ...the issues of cyber security, cyber preparedness, and cyber warfare weighed heavily on the minds of the White House Defense Department, Homeland Security and Federal Law Enforcement leaders. Similar occurrences took place in the UK and member states of the European Union. This new class of weapon requires no special materials, virtually no infrastructure to produce, and the knowledge and skills required to create cyber weapons is widely available and taught in most schools. Every country, extremist group, criminal enterprise, terrorist organization and military is pursuing offensive, defensive and cyber intelligence capabilities. Some call it a new arms race. While that is indeed the case, I would add that the cruising speed for this race is at light speed.
If global conflict was not complex already, cyber conflict that use compromised computers in unwilling and unknowing intermediary countries to obscure the point of attack origination has taken international complexity to an unprecedented new level. A recent document coming out of the United Nations begins to address the international agreements and cooperation needed to address the ever increasing threat of cyber war....
Please note export of this book is prohibited to some countries - Eye Spy readers in the UK, North America, Europe and Australasia are unaffected by this ruling
SPIES IN CAMERA
THE IMAGINATION OF QUOC HUY
Eye Spy looks at the remarkable story of a Vietnamese man whose passion for photography has led him to the former haunts of many notorious London spies and allowed him access to some of today’s “spooks” for a new exhibition of “espionage imagery”... Eye Spy exclusive
EXTRACT: Two years ago, a friend invited Huy to his London home to take a portrait of his family. Little did he know then, that the job would take him into the shadowy world of spies and espionage. After the photo shoot, his friend confided that he had recently retired from the “intelligence community”. Huy recalled his surprise: “I was gobsmacked, I had always imagined a spy as a ‘James Bond’-type, and I think most of us do. I decided to research the subject of spies from around the world and to do what I do best - photograph any former spy that would be willing to sit as my subject.”
Huy clearly didn’t feel his friend fitted the “archetypal image” of a spy... but then most “spies” don’t. And in any event, by way of his constant tramping around London’s pavements in search of his prey, Huy’s probably figured out by now that most spooks look just like everyone else and come in all sorts of colours, shapes, age groups and sizes...
THE NORTHERN PROJECT
AL-QAIDA ASSASSIN IN DENMARK
In Eye Spy 65 we reported on how al-Qaida has enabled something called the “Northern Project”, inviting its followers to create havoc in Europe. One operation linked to the operation almost succeeded as a lone terrorist sought to kill Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist who created the controversial pictures of the Phrophet Mohammed. Now it ihas been revealed the FBI and Denmark’s important PET (national intelligence agency), has already collaborated to thwart one major attempt to kill personnel attached to the Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper which commissioned Westergaard. However, since then, we have learned the Northern Project, is an ongoing effort to attack not just Danish interests and those connected to Jyllands-Posten, but to strike various targets in Europe’s northern countries - including the UK.
UNDERCOVER BOOK RELEASES: THE LATEST INTELLIGENCE AND ESPIONAGE BOOKS
EYE SPY 66 BEST OF THE REST
CIA - CELL PHONE CONCERNS
An internal memo has been issued to all of the Agency’s operational staff about cell phone
usage... but what did the document say?
USAF - CONTROVERSIAL
The programme that cost the USAF $3 can identify concealed terror codes... or can it?
CHEMICAL ALI EXECUTED
End game for the Saddam henchman dubbed “Chemical Ali”
How an FBI creative artist got more than he bargained for when he was asked to come up with a 2009 Osama bin-Laden ‘photofit’
EDUCATION IN TERROR
UK’s MI5 start massive investigation into bogus colleges used by al-Qaida to insert terrorists
JOIN THE DOTS
President Obama playing more politics with US Intelligence Community following failed Detroit bomb plot and alienating further intel chiefs after “hanging the dirty washing out” in public
EYE SPY GETS AN INSIGHT INTO MI6 CHIEF’S “BLUE PEN”
Eye Spy associate editor Glenmore Tranear-Harvey pictured behind MI6 Chief Sir John Sawers (below) as he gives evidence at the Chilcot Inquiry - examining the reasons why the UK went to war with Iraq. MI6 chiefs sign off documents using green ink - a tradition started by the Service’s first head - Sir Mansfield Cumming 100 years ago. Glenmore said Sir John made notes using an ordinary pen!
CIA EYES INTERCEPTED
The interception of film footage acquired and beamed by the Predator drone (UAV) by terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan reveals the vulnerability of technology being used by the intelligence services
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