Palestinians are being arrested by Israel for posting on Facebook

One of the more insidious aspects of Israel’s military dictatorship in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is its blanket monitoring of Palestinian social networks and other forms of communication via the internet. This often leads to arrests being made. A recent report by 7amleh, the Arab Centre for Social Media Advancement, names 21 Palestinians who have been imprisoned or detained by Israel for their posts on Facebook.

An ongoing narrative popular among Israeli propagandists in the past few years blames the nebulous concept of “incitement” for the phenomenon of Palestinians fighting back against Israel’s brutal occupation forces. A Mossad proxy organisation misleadingly known as the “Israel Law Centre” (aka Shurat HaDin) has even launched lawsuits against Facebook for supposedly facilitating terrorism. A US federal court threw the billion-dollar case out in May.

Last year, Israel’s anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) minister Gilad Erdan claimed that Israeli blood was “on the hands of Facebook” and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Shurat HaDin even organised a campaign to raise money for a billboard that would have been erected outside Zuckerberg’s home.

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Predictive Policing: “Falsches” Facebook-Posting führt in Israel oft zu Haft

Predictive Policing: “Falsches” Facebook-Posting führt in Israel oft zu Haft

Palästinensische Aktivisten haben rund 800 Fälle dokumentiert, in denen junge Leute in Israel wegen Facebook-Äußerungen festgenommen wurden. Auf der Konferenz von Netzpolitik.org ertönte der Ruf nach einer “Gemeinwohlförderung” von Algorithmen.

Marwa Fatafta vom Arab Center for Social Media Advancement 7amleh hat am Freitag auf der vierten Konferenz von Netzpolitik.org in Berlin ein düsteres Bild von “Predictive Policing” in Israel gezeichnet. Seit Oktober 2015 habe die palästinensische Organisation rund 800 Fälle dokumentiert, in denen junge Leute wegen Facebook-Postings verhaftet worden seien, erklärte die Aktivistin. Die Betroffenen verschwänden oft einfach einige Monate im Gefängnis, ohne dass ihnen ein ordentlicher Prozess gemacht werde.

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Israel and Facebook team up to combat social media posts that incite violence

Israeli officials are drafting legislation to force social media networks to ‘rein in’ racially-charged content, raising legal and ethical issues

Israel and Facebook will begin working together to tackle posts on the social media platform that incite violence, a senior Israeli cabinet minister has said.

A spate of high-profile new attacks on Israelis in the past 12 months have been incited by inflammatory posts on Facebook, the government argues, which is why legislation to compel the company to delete posts that encourage violent behaviour is on the books.

Representatives from Facebook met with government ministers last week, including interior minister Gilad Erdan and justice minister Ayelet Shaked, who have repeatedly called on the company to do more to monitor and control content.

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THE NEW TARGETS FBI Stings Zero In on ISIS Sympathizers. Few Have Terrorist Links.

Trial and TerrorTrial and Terror
Part 3
The U.S. government has prosecuted almost 800 people for terrorism since the 9/11 attacks. Most of them never committed an act of violence.

˅ EXPAND ALL PARTS
BOSTON POLICE CAPT. Robert Ciccolo was one of the first responders to the Boston Marathon bombings. When his 23-year-old son, Alexander, who had converted to Islam and given himself the name Ali Al Amriki, began telling his father he was “not afraid to die for the cause,” Ciccolo became alarmed. Alexander had a history of mental illness, and his interest in Islam had become an obsession. In October 2014, Ciccolo contacted the FBI about his son.

The federal agents could have monitored Alexander, or perhaps confronted him. Instead, as the bureau does in most such cases, agents launched an investigation. They found Alexander’s Facebook page, listed under his nom de guerre. There was a photograph of a young man in a wooded area wearing a head covering and holding a machete. “Another day in the forest strengthening myself,” the caption read. Another photo on his Facebook page appeared to show a dead American soldier. “Thank you Islamic State!” read the caption.

As part of a sting, an FBI informant contacted Alexander and offered to provide him with guns for an attack. After Alexander collected the weapons on July 4, 2015, FBI agents arrested him and charged him with terrorism-related offenses. As he was being processed at a detention center, he stabbed a nurse with a pen, causing a minor injury. His case made national news, and FBI Director James Comey told reporters that Alexander Ciccolo’s was among several plots related to the Fourth of July holiday that were foiled by counterterrorism agents. “I do believe that our work disrupted efforts to kill people, likely in connection with July 4,” Comey told reporters during a July 7, 2015, briefing.

Alexander Ciccolo is among 63 men and women who have been arrested in FBI stings targeting ISIS sympathizers, according to an analysis of federal terrorism prosecutions by The Intercept.

Demonstrating the evolving threat of terrorism in the United States, alleged ISIS sympathizers are now the primary targets of FBI stings, upstaging Al Qaeda, the Shabab, and all other terrorist groups. The first ISIS case in the United States culminated in an arrest in March 2014, and the number quickly grew. Fifty-eight people were charged in 2015 for alleged ISIS affiliations. In 2016, 32 FBI cases involved ISIS sympathizers, compared to just one each that year involving Al Qaeda and Shabab sympathizers.

But as with earlier FBI stings that primarily targeted Al Qaeda sympathizers, most of the targets of the bureau’s ISIS stings are aspirational, not operational.

In the majority of ISIS stings, targets were not in direct contact with ISIS representatives and did not have weapons of their own, government evidence showed. Instead, these targets were inspired by online propaganda to join ISIS and either made arrangements on their own to travel to Syria or were aided by FBI informants or undercover agents in their attempts join ISIS or plot attacks inside the United States.

BOSTON, MA – JUNE 24: Boston cab drivers rallied this morning before attending a hearing, chaired by Capt. Robert Ciccolo, seen here, with Boston Police Hackney Division at Roxbury Community College regarding a proposed fare increase. (Photo by George Rizer/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) Capt. Robert Ciccolo chairing a hearing at Roxbury Community College. Photo: George Rizer/The Boston Globe/Getty Images
After Alexander was arrested, FBI agents read him his Miranda rights. He then sat for an interview with FBI agents Paul Ambrogio and Julia Cowley.
Dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans, he refused to talk about the guns, but he defended ISIS as a just organization, even as he demonstrated his ignorance about the group. The FBI recorded the interview.

“ISIS claimed responsibility, right, for a lot of beheadings?” Ambrogio asked. “There’s someone who names himself Jihadi John and he beheads people, right? He does it in an online way so that people can see it. So what’s your feeling about that? They represent themselves as ISIS; they’re ISIS. What’s your feeling?”

“The people that you see being executed are criminals,” Alexander answered. “They’re criminals. They’re the lowest of the low.”

According to his family, Alexander, a high school dropout, had battled off and on with alcohol addiction. He was also admitted to a psychiatric institution when he was a teenager.

As a child, he went back and forth between the homes of his father, a stern cop who did not respond to requests for comment for this story, and his mother, something of a free spirit. Alexander followed in his mother’s footsteps.

“I raised him Catholic; he was baptized Catholic,” said Shelley MacInnes, his mother. “He stayed with his Catholic beliefs for quite a long time. I would say he is a very religious person and very spiritual, but as he got older, I think he started searching.”

Alexander Ciccolo first gravitated toward Buddhism and spent time at the Grafton Peace Pagoda in Petersburgh, New York. In 2012, he and other members of the Peace Pagoda walked around Lake Ontario to raise awareness of the dangers of nuclear power. A photograph from the time shows him wearing a green V-neck T-shirt and holding a handwritten sign that reads: “Peace walk for no more Fukushima.”

Shortly after, he returned to Massachusetts and announced that he would become a Muslim. “One day we were out having dinner, and he went to the bathroom,” MacInnes recalled. “He ran into an imam. … He was so excited. ‘Mom, you’re aren’t going to believe what just happened.’”

Alexander became fixated on Islam and ISIS, and he would talk often with his parents about his newfound beliefs. “He’s always been an investigator, never takes anything at face value,” MacInnes said. “As far as ISIS goes, my personal opinion is that he was investigating the validity of that organization, rather than taking the media’s answer for it.”

Following its sting playbook, the FBI introduced to Alexander an informant posing as an ISIS sympathizer. The informant and Alexander met for the first time in person on June 24, 2015. The young man told the informant that he wanted to travel to another state and use pressure cooker bombs to attack two bars and a police station. Over the course of a week, his plan changed from bombing bars and a police station to attacking a university. He boasted that he knew how to use sniper rifles and had grown up with guns. “I know what I’m doing,” he said.

But Alexander didn’t have any weapons, aside from a couple of machetes. His only would-be bomb components were a pressure cooker purchased from Wal-Mart and some half-made Molotov cocktails.

That’s where the FBI stepped in again. The undercover informant provided Alexander with two assault rifles and two handguns. As soon as Alexander took possession of the guns, FBI agents arrested him, charging him with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction. He was also charged with being a felon in possession of firearms, owing to an earlier state conviction of driving under the influence.

BRIGHTON — Buddhist nun Jun Yasuda, left, Lauren Carlbon and Alex Ciccolo on their recent peace walk through Brighton. Ms. Yasuda and her fellow walkers are traveling 600 km around Lake Ontario to spread awareness about the dangers of nuclear energy and weapons. July 26, 2012. Alexander Ciccolo, right, along with Buddhist nun Jun Yasuda and Lauren Carlbon, on a peace walk through Brighton, Mass., July 26, 2012. Photo: Dave Fraser/Metroland Media/The Independent
WHETHER OUT OF mental illness, immaturity, or naiveté, Alexander Ciccolo professed support for ISIS, but it’s unclear whether he would have posed a threat had the FBI informant not encouraged him and provided him with weapons. In this way, Ciccolo’s case is prototypical of ISIS stings.

In these cases, the FBI provides encouragement and capacity to otherwise hapless individuals.

For example, in a similar case in April 2016, the FBI arrested a South Florida man who allegedly plotted to bomb a Jewish community center. An FBI informant gave James Medina, a homeless man with a history of making baseless threats of violence, the opportunity. It was in fact the FBI informant who first came up with the idea of crediting their attack to ISIS. Farther north, in upstate New York, Emanuel L. Lutchman, another homeless man, told an FBI informant that he had received directions from an overseas ISIS member and was planning an attack, using a machete and knives, on a New Year’s Eve celebration in Rochester. The FBI’s informant provided the $40 Lutchman needed to purchase the machete and knives.

In other ISIS stings, the FBI has encouraged and helped to facilitate the international travel of would-be ISIS recruits. An example is the case of Jason Michael Ludke, a Milwaukee man who made contact with an FBI undercover employee through social media. The FBI undercover employee, pretending to be affiliated with ISIS, encouraged Ludke and his friend Yosvany Padilla-Conde to join the terrorist group. The pair drove from Wisconsin to Texas, where they were arrested. According to Padilla-Conde’s statements after the arrest, they were under the impression that the FBI undercover employee was going to assist them in crossing the border into Mexico and then traveling to Iraq or Yemen. Ludke and Padilla-Conde are facing charges of material support for terrorists.

The analysis of terrorism prosecutions by The Intercept shows that federal judges have wrestled with appropriate punishments for those convicted of ISIS-related terrorism offenses.

Some defendants who were arrested before they had an opportunity to travel to Syria have received relatively lenient sentences. Mohammed Hamzah Khan, of Bolingbrook, Illinois, was arrested as he attempted to board a flight to Turkey at O’Hare International Airport. He received about three years in prison. Shannon Maureen Conley, who lived in Colorado, received about four years after she was arrested at the airport in Denver, on her way to Turkey.

At the same time, defendants whose support for ISIS consisted of online activity, such as distributing propaganda on social media, have received comparable sentences to, and in some cases more prison time than, defendants who tried to join ISIS on the battlefield. Heather Elizabeth Coffman, of Glen Allen, Virginia, used several social media accounts to communicate with FBI informants posing as ISIS agents. She was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison. Ali Shukri Amin, who also lived in Virginia, admitted that he operated a pro-ISIS Twitter account and blog and provided instructions to ISIS supporters on how to use Bitcoin to avoid currency transfer restrictions. He was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.

But the most significant prison sentences await those who, like Alexander Ciccolo, moved forward with terrorist plots in the United States, even if it was the FBI making them possible. Christopher Cornell, of Cincinnati, Ohio, plotted with an FBI informant to travel to Washington, D.C., and attack the U.S. Capitol. He was arrested as he was leaving a gun store. After pleading guilty to terrorism-related charges, Cornell was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Lutchman, who was involved in the purported plans to attack a New Year’s Eve celebration in upstate New York, pleaded guilty to material support and received a 20-year prison sentence.

It’s still too early to establish conclusive trends about the sentencing of ISIS defendants in U.S. District Courts. Of the 110 ISIS defendants charged, only 45 have been sentenced.

Yet the arrests of ISIS sympathizers continue at a steady clip, even when the targets of stings have proven themselves to be incompetent ISIS recruits.

An example is Mohamed Rafik Naji, of New York, who attempted five times to travel to ISIS territory but never made it. That’s when an FBI informant, posing as an ISIS affiliate, contacted him through Facebook.

The informant told him that ISIS needed someone to attack Times Square with a garbage truck. “I was saying if there is a truck, I mean a garbage truck, and one drives it there to Times Square and crushes them,” Naji told the informant, repeating the idea. Naji was indicted in November 2016 on a charge of material support for terrorists, the 93rd person to be charged in federal court in an ISIS-related case.

Alexander Ciccolo is now undergoing psychological evaluation; his trial is pending. MacInnes, Ciccolo’s mother, believes he was an impressionable young man manipulated by the FBI and set up with weapons that he never could have obtained on his own. “I don’t think he even knew what his plan was,” MacInnes said.

Trevor Aaronson
April 20 2017, 7:15 p.m.

Find this story at 20 April 2017

Copyright https://theintercept.com/

Mossad Reportedly Turned French Spies Into Double Agents After Joint Syria Op

Le Monde reveals how Israeli espionage agency allegedly exploited a successful chemical weapons operation to get French counterparts to become sources; former head of French counterintelligence agency being questioned as suspect in case.

PARIS – An internal report written by French intelligence, parts of which were published in the daily newspaper Le Monde on Sunday, reveal efforts by the Mossad to develop relationships with French spies, “to the point of crossing the line of turning them into double agents.”
The audit report recommends investigating Bernard Squarcini, the head of the General Directorate for Internal Security until 2012, on suspicion of maintaining unauthorized and unreported ties with the Mossad’s Paris bureau chief at the time (identified in the report only by his initials, D.K.).

The background to all this was a joint operation launched by the Mossad and French counterintelligence agency in 2010 to collect intelligence about Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical warfare plans. The operation, code-named Ratafia, aimed to recruit a senior Syrian engineer, who was meant to come to France to do additional training in chemistry and also to help recruit other engineers.
The Mossad and French agents would hold work meetings using assumed names, as is customary. The French agents, who belonged to three different counterintelligence units, were responsible for the operation in Paris, while the Mossad agents were responsible for the plot that would enable the Syrian target to leave the country for studies and to recruit others in the French capital.
Police officers guard the General Directorate for Internal Security headquarters in Levallois Perret, outside Paris, 2015.
Police officers guard the General Directorate for Internal Security headquarters in Levallois Perret, outside Paris, 2015.Christophe Ena / AP
But according to the report, the Israelis exploited the operation to persuade an unknown number of French agents to also serve as intelligence sources for Israel.
One of the French agents under surveillance was seen going up to the apartment of the Mossad’s Paris chief for dinner one Friday night. Later, he reported to his superiors that he was going to Dubai on vacation, when in fact he flew with his family to Israel, where he spent time with Mossad agents without permission and without reporting the meetings afterward.
In addition, according to the report, suspicious sums of money were deposited in the bank accounts of those French agents who were involved in the Ratafia operation.
The internal report calls for further investigation to understand what damage was done to the French intelligence service.
Le Monde also published details about the Ratafia operation. The paper claimed that the Mossad succeeded in recruiting the Syrian engineer and extracted information from him about Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal.
The French daily said the operation enabled Israel to prove that the scientific cooperation between the European Union and Syria was being used to boost Assad’s chemical weapons program, which led to the cancellation of the agreement with the Syrians in 2011.
According to Le Monde, the Mossad’s interest in building relations with French spies was exposed because a different French espionage agency, responsible for information security, was keeping the agents under surveillance and photographed them with Mossad agents.
The paper said that all the Mossad agents involved were identified by their real names. The French filed a formal complaint, and two Israeli diplomats in the Israeli Embassy in Paris left their posts and returned to Israel. The Mossad chief, D.K., also returned to Israel following the French complaint.
According to the report, the two Mossad agents suspected of contacts with the French have left the service and are now private businessmen in Tel Aviv. But during 2016, the report noted, they made contact with Squarcini (the counterintelligence head they’d worked with) in Paris.
Squarcini, who is now being questioned as a suspect in the case, told investigators he met the two “totally by chance.”
A short time before the suspicions came to light, Squarcini himself launched an internal inquiry into whether the Mossad was trying to recruit French agents as sources. However, the agents he put under surveillance did not include those involved in the Ratafia operation, even though Squarcini was fully aware of the close ties that had developed between his people and the Mossad operatives, the report said.
An investigating judge appointed by the French filed an official request with Israel to question the two ex-Mossad agents who made contact with Squarcini in 2016. It isn’t clear if he received a response.
The judge is seeking to build on the internal investigative report and broaden the investigation into whether the Mossad infiltrated French intelligence under Squarcini.

Dov Alfon Mar 27, 2017 5:40 PM

Find this story at 27 March 2017

Copyright http://www.haaretz.com/

Associés dans l’opération « Ratafia », les espions français et israéliens se sont-ils espionnés entre eux ?

Le Mossad aurait tenté d’infiltrer le service de contre-espionnage
français dans le cadre de l’opération visant à lutter contre le
programme d’armes chimiques syrien, à partir de 2010.

Dans le monde de l’espionnage, si des services décident d’unir leurs
efforts, cela n’en fait pas pour autant des amis. Rien ne les empêchera
de s’espionner. Jamais. La preuve lors d’une opération qui a réuni, à
partir de 2010, la sécurité intérieure française et le service secret
israélien du Mossad pour lutter contre le programme d’armes chimiques
développé par le régime syrien de Bachar Al-Assad.

L’enquête de sécurité interne diligentée par la Direction centrale du
renseignement intérieur (DCRI, devenue Direction générale de la sécurité
intérieure en 2014) sur la tentative du Mossad d’infiltrer, à cette
occasion, le service de contre-espionnage français illustre ces
pratiques. Lorsque l’opération ayant pour nom de code « Ratafia »
débute, en 2010, c’est encore l’union sacrée pour prendre au piège un
Syrien qui doit effectuer des séjours en France. Il s’agit de l’amener à
livrer des secrets sur le programme d’armes chimiques syrien auquel il
appartient.

Lorsque le Mossad obtient le soutien de plusieurs groupes de la DCRI et
d’agents de la DGSE, tous ses membres agissent sous de faux noms et une
dizaine d’entre eux sont des clandestins à l’exception de D.K., chef de
poste du Mossad à Paris. Selon les accusations de la DCRI, auxquelles Le
Monde a eu accès, le Mossad aurait profité du contact quotidien avec ces
agents français lors des séjours de la cible syrienne pour nouer des
liens jugés suspects.

L’un des agents français a ainsi été vu fêtant le shabbat avec le chef
de poste du Mossad à Paris, il est également parti faire du tir à Dubaï
puis a rejoint, en famille, ses camarades du Mossad à Jérusalem. Une
proximité revenant, selon la DCRI, à franchir la ligne jaune. Des
soupçons portent également sur le versement de sommes d’argent en
espèces et l’existence de cadeaux contraire aux règles internes.
Résultat, plusieurs agents français intégrés dans l’équipe conjointe
avec le Mossad se verront retirer leur habilitation secret défense et
seront mutés dans des services subalternes.

L’enquête interne de la DGSI se garde cependant de rappeler qu’un autre
groupe de la DCRI, chargé de contre-espionnage, s’est arrangé pour
prendre en photo, à leur insu, les agents du Mossad qui travaillaient
avec les Français. Un audit sera, enfin, déclenché sur l’utilisation des
fonds de l’opération « Ratafia » après la découverte de demandes de
remboursement de frais douteux.

Compromission

Cette enquête interne a été évoquée dans le cadre d’une information
judiciaire visant Bernard Squarcini, chef de la sécurité intérieure de
2007 à 2012. Soupçonné d’avoir pu utiliser les moyens d’écoutes de son
service à des fins personnelles, il s’est défendu en indiquant que le
bref placement sur écoute d’un fonctionnaire qui lui est reproché était
destiné à vérifier s’il n’avait pas été, à son tour, « touché » par ce
service étranger. Ce qui se révéla infondé. « Le service de sécurité de
la DCRI m’a informé qu’une entreprise de matériel côtoyait de très près
des personnels ex-RG affectés aux missions de surveillance
opérationnelle et qu’il s’agissait d’une tentative du Mossad ou de gens
considérés comme très proches d’infiltrer le service », a ajouté M.
Squarcini. S’il a évoqué la compromission de policiers de son service,
il n’a, en revanche, pas dit un mot sur l’opération « Ratafia » menée
avec le Mossad.

La DCRI fit part de ses griefs à la hiérarchie du Mossad à Tel-Aviv.
Deux membres de l’ambassade d’Israël à Paris furent priés de quitter la
France, dont D. K. Ils ont quitté le Mossad et se sont reconvertis dans
le privé. M. Squarcini a affirmé qu’il avait, par hasard, rencontré, en
2016, ces deux hommes venus en France pour affaires.

Fin décembre, les juges d’instruction ont émis, à l’attention de
l’Inspection générale de la police nationale (IGPN), deux commissions
rogatoires pour en savoir plus sur cette affaire. La première sur
l’enquête de contre-espionnage visant le Mossad et les relations
existant entre ce service et la DGSI, la seconde demande aux policiers
d’entendre les deux anciens du Mossad qu’aurait rencontrés M. Squarcini.

LE MONDE | 25.03.2017 à 11h26
Par Jacques Follorou

Find this story at 25 March 2017
Copyright http://www.lemonde.fr/

Al Arabiya investigates: Who really killed Hezbollah’s Mustafa Badreddine?

On the May 13, 2016, Lebanese people were surprised when the Hezbollah’s leading man Hassan Nasrallah was seen mourning the death of his most senior militia commander Mustafa Badreddine.

No sooner did the news of Badreddine demise in Syria broke out, the Lebanese media adopted the story perpetuated by Hezbollah on the circumstances surrounding his death. Still, a few days later, questions began to rise about the credibility of Hezbollah’s version of events.

After investigations into the story, evidence proved that Badreddine did not die fighting in the battlefields of Syria as claimed, but rather, the Hezbollah militia commander was assassinated. And the person responsible for his assassination was none other but his revered leader and friend, Hassan Nasrallah.

Events leading up to May 12
In 2013, Hezbollah was summoned to fight in Syria and Nasrallah commissioned Badreddine to lead the factions there alongside Iran’s Qassem Soleimani who led Quds Force, a branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Soleimani ignored Badreddine’s great experience and aspired to lead the entire battle all by himself. While Badreddine took one risk after the other in the battlefields, leading his soldiers to victories and assuming full responsibility for the losses, he discovered that Soleimani was favoring the lives of the revolutionary guards over those of Hezbollah. The former asked the latter to lead his soldiers himself and take full responsibility over his army.

Both Hassan Nasrallah and Qassem Soleimani are said to have a hand behind Mustafa Badreddine mysterious death.

While Badreddine was fighting with his army in Syria, he was tried in absentia at the International Tribunal in the case of the assassination Rafiq Hariri, former Prime Minister of Lebanon in 2005. Nasrallah has been under a huge pressure from Soleimani, who requested the removal of Badreddine from the battlefield. Consequently, it appears that he had schemed to get rid of the commander.

The question then begs: What really happened on the evening of May 12, 2016? How did Soleimani and Nasrallah arrange the assassination of Mustafa Badreddine? And what really happened near the Damascus International Airport on the night between the May 12-13, 2016?

Aftermath
On May 14, 2016, less than two days after the operation, Al-Akhbar newspaper published the results of the investigation. Badreddine was reported to have arrived to the international airport was reportedly accompanied to the meeting with three other people but was the only one who was killed.

Initial reporting by Al-Mayadeen blamed Israel for the fatal attack, claiming that an Israeli Air Force (IAF) strike successfully targeted Badreddine’s position. But that article was later erased.

The cause of his death was assumed to be a vacuum bomb, while the nearest fighter group was 12 km away from the Damascus airport, which places it in the range of the artillery. Yet, these groups usually used unguided shells for their operations.

However, no gun powder residue found at the scene.

Infographic: Who was Hezbollah’s Mustafa Badreddine?

(Design by: Craig Willers)

Nicholas Blanford, a nonresident senior fellow with the Middle East Peace and Security Initiative, recently wrote an analysis on that point.

“The one claim of responsibility from the rebels came from the Jaysh al-Sunna group which said it had killed Badreddine in Khan Touman in southern Aleppo province. If that were true, why would Hezbollah hide it and make up a story about “takfiris” killing Badreddine much further south in the Damascus airport area?” Blanford asked.

“Also it is unclear what weapon system would be in the hands of rebel groups in the vicinity of Damascus airport that could account for the “large explosion” that Hezbollah said on Friday killed Badreddine. Diplomatic sources in Beirut confirmed that there really was a powerful blast near Damascus airport on Thursday (May 12) even if its origin remains unknown,” Blanford added.

One airport employee recounted the events of the night, saying airport employees were being barred from entering their workplace as the operation was taking place.

“As I was approaching to go to work, I saw a lot of people crowding near the airport. At approximately 10 PM that night we suddenly heard a loud bang and what sounded like fire from three rifles,” the airport employee told Al Arabiya.

“We tried approaching the scene to see what was going on but we were stopped by Hezbollah fighters telling us we weren’t allowed to enter. They did not even allow Syrian senior army officer or the Syrian police from entering the airport,” he said.

Images show the reported site hours before Mustafa Badreddine was killed compared to the same site pictured a day later. (Al Arabiya)

Al Arabiya also obtained images of the site where Mustafa Badreddine was killed which revealed aerial views of the exact scene on May 12 and May 14, both photos showing the site unscathed.

On the same say, the Shiite cleric Abbas Hoteit declared to the south Lebanon website Janoubia that “Badreddine was killed by two treacherous bullets”.

Evidence and eyewitness accounts suggested that four people met at the security building near the Damascus airport that night, one of them being Badreddine himself. The identity of the second person was discovered immediately after the operation on Twitter when a number of people reported they saw Soleimani leaving the site minutes before the operation. The third person was Badreddine’s bodyguard, who could not save his commander’s life.

According to eyewitnesses, the fourth person identified was Ibrahim Hussein Jezzini, a person who Badreddine reportedly trusted the most.

Badreddine’s death was seen as a victory for those affected by his involvement in attacks dating back to the 1980s, reportedly including the deadly suicide truck bombing attack that left over 200 US soldiers dead in Beirut in 1983 as well as the bombings targeting the French and US embassies in Kuwait the same year.

Al Arabiya News ChannelWednesday, 8 March 2017
Find this story at 8 March 2017

Copyright http://english.alarabiya.net

Israel’s Army Chief: Hezbollah Commander Mustafa Badreddine Killed by His Own Men

Killing of Mustafa Amine Badreddine last year shows the ‘depth of the internal crisis within Hezbollah,’ Gadi Eisenkot says.

Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said reports that Mustafa Amine Badreddine was killed by Hezbollah officers are in accordance to “intelligence we have.” The incident “indicates the depth of the internal crisis within Hezbollah,” and “the extent of the cruelty, complexity and tension between Hezbollah and its patron Iran.”
He added that despite Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria providing it with cumulative operational experience, it remains in crisis. “It is an internal crisis over what they are fighting fore, an economic crisis and a leadership crisis,” he asserted. Eisenkot was speaking at an academic conference in Netanya.
Badreddine, one of Hezbollah’s highest ranking military commanders, was killed in Syria in May last year. Initial reports attributed the attack to a covert Israeli operation, but signs suggested otherwise.
Badreddine was said to have assumed the position of his brother-in-law, Hezbollah commander Imad Moughniyeh, who died in a 2008 assassination in Damascus also attributed to Israel. However, some dispute his official status as the group’s military leader, saying he was only in charge of its operations in Syria, as Hezbollah has never publicly named a successor for Moughniyeh, whose son Jihad was also killed in Syria in an attack said to be Israel’s doing.

A U.S. Department of the Treasury statement detailing sanctions against Badreddine had said he was assessed to be responsible for the group’s military operations in Syria since 2011, and he had accompanied Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during strategic coordination meetings with Assad in Damascus.

Eisenkot also hinted at the Israeli army’s recent operational activity, which has generated tension with the Russian regime. He said, “Despite six years of war in Syria, we are managing to maintain a quiet border, and to prevent the growth in power of those who need not be strengthened with advanced weaponry.” He added that the civil war in Syria involves not only risks but also “many opportunities for regional and international cooperation.”
In his remarks, Eisenkot also stressed Iran’s influence on Hezbollah and Hamas. “Iran is waging before us another campaign, a proxy war, and it is present both in Lebanon and in Syria with thousands of Shi’ite militiamen, as well as in Gaza,” he said. The chief of staff contended that the “primary challenge” for the Israel Defense Forces is Hezbollah, which operates both in Lebanon and in Syria.
Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, however, said Iran poses Israel’s foremost threat. Iran did not give up its nuclear ambitions, and it is trying to influence and shape the Middle East, said Cohen, also at the conference.
“As long as the Ayatollah regime exists, Iran will be the primary challenge for the security establishment, with or without the nuclear deal,” he asserted.

Gili Cohen Mar 22, 2017 12:44 PM

Find this story at 22 March 2017
© Haaretz Daily Newspaper Ltd

TOP HEZBOLLAH COMMANDER MUSTAFA BADREDDINE ASSASSINATED BY OWN GROUP: ISRAELI MILITARY

Israel’s military chief said Tuesday that a top Hezbollah commander who died last year was assassinated by members of his own group, the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite militia.

Mustafa Badreddine died near the Syrian capital, Damascus, in May 2016, and Hezbollah said that Syrian rebel shelling caused his death.

But recent Arab media reports have alleged that Hezbollah wanted rid of Badreddine because of a difference in opinion on how to wage the military campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Hezbollah has deployed thousands of troops to the war-torn country to boost the Syrian dictator’s ranks.

Lieutenant-General Gadi Eisenkot, chief of the Israeli armed forces, said that Israeli intelligence had corroborated reports of Hezbollah assassinating one of its own commanders, but did not elaborate on the circumstances.

“According to [media] reports, he was killed by his superiors, which points to the extent of the cruelty, complexity and tension between Hezbollah and its patron, Iran,” he said during a conference speech in the central Israeli city of Netanya, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. “These reports corresponded with the information we have and with our assessment.”

Read more: Another war between Israel and Hezbollah is inevitable

He continued: “It is an internal crisis over what they are fighting for, an economic crisis and a leadership crisis.”

Hezbollah spokesman Mohammed Afif told Reuters the Israeli remarks were “lies that do not deserve comment.”

Both the U.S. and Israel believed 55-year-old Badreddine to be Hezbollah’s military commander in Syria. His brother-in-law Imad Mughniyeh was Hezbollah’s military commander until he was assassinated in a 2008 bomb blast in Damascus, which reports suggested was the work of both Israel’s Mossad and America’s CIA agencies. Israel as a rule does comment on its foreign operations.

The Lebanese militia fought a one-month war with Israel, its primary enemy, in 2006. It centered on the southern Lebanese border with northern Israel, and the Golan Heights, a contested territory that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Iran, whose leadership routinely calls for Israel’s destruction, continues to support Hezbollah financially and militarily. Israel continues to conduct strikes against Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon to prevent Iranian arms transfers to the group.

BY JACK MOORE ON 3/21/17 AT 1:51 PM

Find this story at 21 March 2017

Copyright http://www.newsweek.com/

2 Lebanese, 2 Nepalese and 1 Palestinian Held for Spying for Israel

The General Directorate of General Security announced Wednesday that it has arrested two Lebanese men, two Nepalese women and a Palestinian man on charges of “spying for Israeli embassies abroad.”

“During interrogation, the detainees confessed to the charges, admitting that they had called phone numbers belonging to the Israeli enemy’s embassies in Turkey, Jordan, Britain and Nepal with the aim of spying and passing on information,” a General Security statement said.

The investigations revealed that the two aforementioned Nepalese women were actively recruiting Nepalese domestic workers in Lebanon with the aim of spying for Israel.

“They gave them the phone number of the Israeli embassy in Nepal so that they pass on information about their employers to the Mossad Israeli intelligence agency,” the statement added.

“Following interrogation, they were referred to the relevant judicial authorities on charges of collaborating with the Israeli enemy and efforts are underway to arrest the rest of the culprits,” General Security said.

by Naharnet Newsdesk 25 January 2017, 16:04

Find this story at 25 January 2017

Naharnet © 2017

Leading Hezbollah commander and key Israel target killed in Syria (2016)

Hezbollah has confirmed its military commander, Mustafa Badreddine, was killed in Syria this week in what it described as a “major explosion” at Damascus airport.

Media reports in Lebanon and Israel quickly suggested the blast had been caused by an Israeli airstrike, a suggestion to which Hezbollah gave weight, announcing it was investigating whether a “missile or artillery strike” had been responsible.

Badreddine was the most senior member of the organisation to have been killed since the death of his predecessor and brother-in-law, Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated by a joint Mossad/CIA operation in the Syrian capital in February 2008.

There was no immediate reaction from the Israeli government, which has authorised at least eight air strikes against targets inside Syria since the start of the civil war five years ago. Most had targeted anti-aircraft systems that Israeli officials claimed were being moved to Lebanon, where they could pose a threat against its air force.

Mustafa Amine Badreddine, in an undated handout picture released at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon website.
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Mustafa Amine Badreddine, in an undated handout picture released at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon website.
Announcing Badreddine’s death, Hezbollah said: “He said months ago that he would not return from Syria except as a martyr or carrying the flag of victory. He is the great jihadi leader Mustafa Badreddine, and he has returned today a martyr.”

The statement added: “The information gleaned from the initial investigation is that a major explosion targeted one of our centres near Damascus International airport, which led to the martyrdom of Sayyid Zul Fikar [his nom de guerre] and the injuries of others.

“The investigation will work to determine the nature of the explosion and its causes, whether it was due to an air or missile or artillery strike, and we will announce the results of the investigation soon.”

Nicknamed Zul Fikar, after the sword of Imam Ali, the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and one of the most revered figures in Shia Islam, Badreddine was born in 1961 in the southern Beirut suburb of Ghobeiry, and rose to greater prominence after Mughniyeh’s assassination.

He was sentenced to death in Kuwait in the 1980s over a plot to blow up the American and French embassies there during the Iran-Iraq war, but later escaped after Saddam Hussein’s army invaded the oil-rich emirate and threw open its prisons.

Hezbollah said he had been involved in nearly all the group’s operations since its inception in the early 1980s. Most had targeted Israel, which occupied southern Lebanon from 1982 to 2000. However, Badreddine had also been accused of leading a cell that was allegedly responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri on the Beirut waterfront in February 2005.

He was indicted in 2011 by the special tribunal for Lebanon, an international court established in the Hague, in connection with the massive 2005 bombing, which led Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to withdraw his forces from Lebanon in the face of a civic uprising.

Badreddine and four other alleged members of Hezbollah remain on trial in absentia at the Hague. Prosecutors have offered one of the few publicly available glimpses of the shadowy Hezbollah operative, describing him as the “apex” of the cell that allegedly killed Hariri, and a figure akin to an “untraceable ghost” who assumed multiple identities.

‘Nobody wants to stay in Lebanon. It’s a miserable life’
Read more
He was known to have studied at a Lebanese university and to have maintained an apartment in the Lebanese seaside area of Jounieh. He was also active in the south Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, where he was last seen early last year at a wake for Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, who was also killed by an Israeli airstrike.

While holding senior positions throughout his career, Badreddine was most known for his role in leading Hezbollah’s large contingent in Syria, which it sent to defend the interest of the Assad regime as his grip on power weakened in 2012. Hezbollah has since lost an estimated 900 members in fighting across Syria, where along with Iran, it has taken the lead in directing numerous battles.

Israel has refused to comment on airstrikes it has previously launched inside Syria. However, unnamed officials have said the strikes had targeted anti-aircraft systems that were allegedly being transferred to Hezbollah. It had also targeted a Hezbollah leader, Samir Kuntar, who had been jailed inside Israel for more than 30 years until his release in 2008.

Despite Israeli protests, Russia has recently proceeded with a long-delayed sale to Iran of the advanced S-300 weapons system, which can shoot down most modern fighter jets. Israeli officials have said they would prioritise tracking the whereabouts of the systems, the position of which in southern Lebanon would pose a potent threat to their air force.

The US treasury department sanctioned Badreddine in 2012 for his activities in support of the government of Assad in Syria, along with the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and its head of external operations, Talal Hamiyah.

Hezbollah said it would hold funeral services on Friday in honour of Badreddine. In south Beirut, posters of Badreddine, whose image had rarely been published, were being hung from overpasses and lamp-posts.

Tens of thousands of mourners are expected to pay their respects at a shrine site for Hezbollah dead, which includes the graves of Imad and Jihad Mughniyah. Nasrallah is also expected to make a public statement – his second within a week.

Martin Chulov and Kareem Shaheen in Beirut
Friday 13 May 2016 04.00 BST First published on Friday 13 May 2016 03.32 BST

Find this story at 13 May 2016

© 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Mustafa Badreddine: the Hezbollah leader who left no footprints (2016)

Elias Saab. Sami Issa. Safi Badr. Zul Fikar. All were aliases of Hezbollah’s secretive military commander, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, described in court records as an “untraceable ghost”.

Few details are known about Badreddine, who was killed this week in a mysterious explosion at a Hezbollah base near Damascus airport. This despite him being one of the most prominent figures in the party and the brother-in-law of the notorious Imad Mughniyeh, who he succeeded as military commander after the latter was killed in a 2008 joint CIA-Mossad operation in the Syrian capital.

Born in the southern Beirut suburb of Ghobeiry on 6 April 1961, Badreddine had a pronounced limp, believed to have been sustained while he fought alongside pro-Palestinian and pan-Arabist militias during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

His nom de guerre was Sayyed Zul Fikar: Sayyed indicating a claimed descent from the prophet Muhammad; Zul Fikar being the name of the legendary forked sword of Imam Ali, the prophet’s cousin and one of the most revered figures in Shia Islam.

Badreddine was arrested and sentenced to death in Kuwait in 1983 over his suspected involvement in a string of coordinated bombings in the tiny Gulf emirate that also targeted the US and French embassies. They were believed to be retribution for Kuwait and the west’s support for Iraq in its war with Iran.

The sentence, which had to be formally approved by the emir, was never carried out, perhaps as a consequence of a series of attacks and plane hijackings demanding the release of the Kuwait attackers, and which allegedly involved Mughniyeh. It was also never carried out because when the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990, he threw open the doors of the country’s prisons, allowing Badreddine to escape.

This is where the trail disappears. It only emerges again in 2011, when UN prosecutors investigating a 2005 Beirut bombing that killed Lebanon’s prime minister, Rafik Hariri, indicted Badreddine. They alleged he was the coordinator of a sophisticated network that tracked and ultimately assassinated the popular billionaire.

Analysis Ten years after Hariri’s assassination, Lebanon badly needs his moderation
Lebanon dared to hope under Rafik Hariri, but the prime minister’s death exposed the country’s sectarian fault lines and lit the fuse that led to Syria’s civil war
Read more
Court records from the special tribunal for Lebanon have offered a rare glimpse into the life of Badreddine, who was charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist act, carrying out a terrorist act by means of an explosive device, and intentional homicide.

Badreddine studied political science at the Lebanese American University from 2002-04. He drove a Mercedes Benz, owned the Samino jewellery shop in Beirut, and an apartment in Jounieh, a coastal town north of the capital known for its active nightlife, where he supposedly entertained friends.

His phone’s contact list, prosecutors alleged, included the numbers of college friends and business associates, Hezbollah officials and bodyguards, family members as well as supposed girlfriends.

Badreddine became military commander in 2008 after his brother-in-law was killed by a bomb placed in the headrest of his car. Mughniyeh had been the architect of Hezbollah’s guerrilla defence in Lebanon during the 2006 war with Israel and was implicated in the 1990s bombing of a synagogue in Argentina.

There are almost no images available of Badreddine. Two that were made available by the tribunal were dated, one showing him as a teenager and the other apparently from his days in Kuwait, showing a handsome young man with curly hair and a moustache, dressed in a tie-less suit. On Friday’s Hezbollah’s media department circulated an photo of the commander smiling in military fatigues and sporting a short grey beard and spectacles.

Badreddine left few personal records. Investigators for the UN trial say they found no driving licences or passports, no property formally owned by him, no record of him ever having left Lebanon, no bank accounts, and no photos from around the time of Hariri’s assassination. In the opening sessions of his trial in absentia in The Hague, prosecutors said he “passes as an unrecognisable and untraceable ghost throughout Lebanon, leaving no footprint as he passes”.

Hezbollah vehemently denies the allegations and does not recognise the tribunal.

In recent years, Badreddine was mostly known for his role in leading Hezbollah’s contingent in Syria, where the paramilitary group has been instrumental in ensuring the continued survival of the Assad government, alongside its patron, Iran, where an estimated 900 of the party’s fighters have died, including Jihad Mughniyeh, Imad’s son.

Badreddine was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department over his role in Syria in 2012.

An Israeli investigative journalist who is writing a history of the Mossad said the strike that killed Jihad Mughniyeh near the Golan Heights last year was actually aimed at Badreddine.

Kareem Shaheen in Beirut
Friday 13 May 2016 10.02 BST Last modified on Friday 27 May 2016 07.25 BST

Find this story at 13 May 2016

© 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Beirut, Also the Site of Deadly Attacks, Feels Forgotten (2015)

The relatives of one of the victims of the twin suicide attacks in Beirut mourned during a funeral procession in the city’s Burj al-Barajneh neighborhood. Credit Wael Hamzeh/European Pressphoto Agency
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Ali Awad, 14, was chopping vegetables when the first bomb struck. Adel Tormous, who would die tackling the second bomber, was sitting at a nearby coffee stand. Khodr Alaa Deen, a registered nurse, was on his way to work his night shift at the teaching hospital of the American University at Beirut, in Lebanon.

All three lost their lives in a double suicide attack in Beirut on Thursday, along with 40 others, and much like the scores who died a day later in Paris, they were killed at random, in a bustling urban area, while going about their normal evening business.

Around the crime scenes in south Beirut and central Paris alike, a sense of shock and sadness lingered into the weekend, with cafes and markets quieter than usual. The consecutive rampages, both claimed by the Islamic State, inspired feelings of shared, even global vulnerability — especially in Lebanon, where many expressed shock that such chaos had reached France, a country they regarded as far safer than their own.

But for some in Beirut, that solidarity was mixed with anguish over the fact that just one of the stricken cities — Paris — received a global outpouring of sympathy akin to the one lavished on the United States after the 9/11 attacks.

Monuments around the world lit up in the colors of the French flag; presidential speeches touted the need to defend “shared values;” Facebook offered users a one-click option to overlay their profile pictures with the French tricolor, a service not offered for the Lebanese flag. On Friday the social media giant even activated Safety Check, a feature usually reserved for natural disasters that lets people alert loved ones that they are unhurt; they had not activated it the day before for Beirut.

Photo

The site of Thursday’s twin suicide bombings in the Burj al-Barajneh neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon. Credit Bilal Hussein/Associated Press
“When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag,” Elie Fares, a Lebanese doctor, wrote on his blog. “When my people died, they did not send the world into mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”

The implication, numerous Lebanese commentators complained, was that Arab lives mattered less. Either that, or that their country — relatively calm despite the war next door — was perceived as a place where carnage is the norm, an undifferentiated corner of a basket-case region.

In fact, while Beirut was once synonymous with violence, when it went through a grinding civil war a generation ago, this was the deadliest suicide bombing to hit the city since that conflict ended in 1990. Lebanon has weathered waves of political assassinations, street skirmishes and wars; Israeli airstrikes leveled whole apartment blocks in 2006. But it had been a year of relative calm.

(A reminder of the muddled perceptions came last week, when Jeb Bush, the Republican presidential candidate, declared that “if you’re a Christian, increasingly in Lebanon, or Iraq or Syria, you’re gonna be beheaded.” That was news to Lebanon’s Christians, who hold significant political power.)

The disparity in reactions highlighted a sense in the region of being left alone to bear the brunt of Syria’s deadly four-year war, which has sent more than four million refugees fleeing, mostly to neighboring countries like Lebanon. For the Lebanese, the government has been little help, plagued as it is with gridlock and corruption that have engendered electricity and water shortages and, most recently, a collapse of garbage collection. Many in the region — both supporters and opponents of the Syrian government — say they have long warned the international powers that, if left unaddressed, the conflict would eventually spill into the West.

How ISIS Expanded Its Threat
The Islamic State emerged from a group of militants in Iraq to take over large portions of Iraq and Syria, and now threatens other countries in Europe and elsewhere.

To be sure, the attacks meant different things in Paris and Beirut. Paris saw it as a bolt from the blue, the worst attack in the city in decades, while to Beirut the bombing was the fulfillment of a never entirely absent fear that another outbreak of violence may come.

Lebanon seemed to have recovered over the past year and a half from a series of bombings claimed by Sunni militant groups as revenge for the intervention by Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite militia, in the Syrian civil war to provide critical support for the Syrian government.

Some blamed news coverage for the perception that Beirut is still an active war zone. They cited headlines — including, briefly, a Times one that was soon changed to be more precise — that refer to the predominantly Shiite neighborhood where the bombing took place as a “stronghold” of the militia and political party Hezbollah.

That is hard to dispute in the political sense — Hezbollah controls security in the neighborhood and is highly popular there, along with the allied Amal party. But the phrase also risks portraying a busy civilian, residential and commercial district as a justifiable military target.

Meanwhile, Syrians fretted that the brunt of reaction to both attacks would fall on them. There are a million Syrians in Lebanon, a country of four million; some have become desperate enough to contemplate joining the accelerating flow of those taking smugglers’ boats to Europe.

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But now, the attacks could rally political pressure in Europe to stop admitting them. When evidence emerged that at least one of the Paris attackers may have posed as an asylum seeker to reach Europe, some opponents of the migration quickly used that to argue for closing the doors.

That drew sharp reactions from Syrians, who said refugees were fleeing to Europe precisely to escape indiscriminate violence.

“This is the sort of terrorism that Syrian refugees have been fleeing by the millions,” declared Faisal Alazem, a spokesman for the Syrian Canadian Council.

The compassion gap is even more evident when it comes to the situation in Syria itself, where death tolls comparable to the 129 so far in the Paris attacks are far from rare and, during the worst periods, were virtually daily occurrences.

“Imagine if what happened in Paris last night would happen there on a daily basis for five years,” said Nour Kabbach, who fled the heavy bombardment of her home city of Aleppo, Syria, several years ago and now works in humanitarian aid in Beirut.

GRAPHIC
Where ISIS Has Directed and Inspired Attacks Around the World
More than a dozen countries have had attacks since the Islamic State, or ISIS, began to pursue a global strategy in the summer of 2014.

OPEN GRAPHIC
“Now imagine all that happening without global sympathy for innocent lost lives, with no special media updates by the minute, and without the support of every world leader condemning the violence,” she wrote on Facebook. Finally, she said, ask yourself what it would be like to have to explain to your child why an attack in “another pretty city like yours” got worldwide attention and your own did not.

Back in southern Beirut over the weekend, as the government announced the arrest of seven Syrians and two Lebanese in connection with the attack, the street where the bombings took place was strewn with lettuce and parsley from pushcarts overturned in the blast. Men washed blood from sidewalks. A shop’s inventory of shoes — from small children’s slippers to women’s clogs — was scattered across the pavement. Several funeral processions were massing, ready to march to cemeteries.

Residents mourned Ali Awad, 14, passing around his picture in a scouting uniform. He had run out to see what had happened after the first blast, and was caught in the second, relatives said.

Nearby, Abdullah Jawad stood staring glumly into a shop. His friend, the owner, had died there, just after Mr. Jawad had painted the place.

“The government can’t protect us,” he said. “They can’t even pick up the trash from the streets.”

As for Facebook, it declared that the high level of social media activity around the Paris attacks had inspired the company to activate Safety Check for the first time for an emergency other than a natural disaster, and that a policy of when to do so was still developing.

“There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris,” wrote Alex Schultz, the company’s vice president for growth, adding that Safety Check is less useful in continuing wars and epidemics because, without a clear end point, “it’s impossible to know when someone is truly ‘safe.’”

Hwaida Saad contributed reporting.
By ANNE BARNARDNOV. 15, 2015

Find this story at 15 November 2015

© 2017 The New York Times Company

Lebanon better able to catch alleged Israeli spies (2010)

A strengthening Lebanese government is helping the militant group Hezbollah bust alleged spy cells, sometimes using tools and tradecraft acquired from Western nations.

Reporting from Beirut — The chief of Lebanon’s domestic security forces had a warning for the Hezbollah commander: “You’ve been infiltrated.”

With that, Achraf Rifi, head of the U.S.-backed Internal Security Forces, handed over evidence showing that two trusted, mid-ranking Hezbollah commanders were working as informants for Israeli military intelligence, said a high-ranking Lebanese security official with knowledge of the April 2009 meeting.

Wafiq Safa, the security chief for the powerful Shiite Muslim militia and political organization, was silent.

“They were shocked,” said the security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the subject.

Things moved quickly after that. The Hezbollah commander called Rifi the next day to assure him that the militant group would “take care of” the alleged infiltrators, who were never heard from again, the security official said.

A monthlong war between Hezbollah and Israel ended four years ago, and Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon ended a decade ago. But a clandestine intelligence war between the Jewish state and the Iranian-backed militant group continues unabated, officials and security experts say.

Now, a strengthening Lebanese government is helping Hezbollah bust alleged spy cells, sometimes using tools and tradecraft acquired from Western nations eager to build up Lebanon’s security forces as a counterweight to the Shiite group, which since a 2008 power-sharing agreement has been a member of the governing coalition.

Although security officials here say they’re using newfound tools to ferret out spies watching Hezbollah, just like they would against anyone attempting to infiltrate the country, Western observers express concern.

“There are deep Israeli worries that anything the West gives the Lebanese armed forces and the Internal Security Forces could be used against them,” said Mara Karlin, a former Lebanon specialist at the U.S. Defense Department, now a researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

The United States and its Western allies play a delicate balancing game in Lebanon. Since 2006, Washington has given nearly $500 million in military aid to Lebanese security forces and has allocated $100 million for 2011, making Lebanon the second-largest recipient of American military aid per capita after Israel.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow met officials in Lebanon on Monday, emphasizing that continuing U.S. aid and training would allow the army to “prevent militias and other nongovernment organizations” from undermining the government.

The use of sophisticated equipment in the foiling of alleged Israeli spies may be the first concrete illustration of the U.S. dilemma. According to Lebanese officials, Israeli analysts and a Western diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity, Lebanon has redirected for use against Israel signal-detection equipment donated by France and intended to fight Islamic militants.

“The technology used with Fatah Islam was used to detect Israeli spies and collaborators in Lebanon,” said retired Col. Kamal Awar, a U.S.-trained former member of the Lebanese Special Forces who now publishes Defense 21, an Arabic-language military journal. “They discovered they were talking with the Israeli guy on the other side of the border.”

The U.S. military has also contributed to the Lebanese security forces’ communications abilities. Israeli analyst Ronen Bergman, author of “The Secret War with Iran,” who is writing a book about the history of his country’s intelligence efforts, said the U.S. gave Lebanon’s army sophisticated electronic equipment that allowed it to identify and trace even encrypted communications.

But there is no evidence that the training and equipment have been used to foil the intelligence operations of Israel, a major American ally.

Israel and Lebanon have long claimed counterintelligence coups and thwarted alleged traitors.

In 2008, Israel charged Sgt. Maj. Lovai Balut of Military Intelligence Unit 504 of passing on information to Hezbollah, according to the Jerusalem Post. In June, the Israeli army arrested a soldier and several civilians accused of spying for Hezbollah and smuggling drugs into the Jewish state.

But over the last two years, Lebanon’s security forces may have conducted one of the most extraordinary counterintelligence sweeps in the annals of espionage. Dozens of alleged spies have been arrested in Lebanon on suspicion of sending information to Israel on the whereabouts and movements of Hezbollah and other enemies of the Jewish state.

The broad range of suspects suggests a widespread effort by Israeli security forces to infiltrate Hezbollah, which Israel views as a severe threat to its national security.

They include a city official of a small town in Hezbollah’s Bekaa Valley stronghold. Ziad Homsy, allegedly recruited at a conference in the Far East, is serving a temporary sentence of hard labor pending a final verdict.

“Homsy had fought against the Israeli occupation,” said a Lebanese army officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the topic. “It was not easy to recruit him. But he needed the money. He would never drive a Kia. It was either a Mercedes or an SUV or stay at home.”

There is the case of Lebanese army reserve Brig. Gen. Adib Alam, arrested in 2009 on charges of spying for Israel, who was reportedly convinced that it would help counter Syria, which he despised for its dominant role in recent Lebanese history.

One convicted spy, Marwan Faqih, was a car dealer who allegedly sold Hezbollah bigwigs SUVs equipped with tracking devices that allowed Israel to follow their movements. Hezbollah has denied that its members bought cars from him.

This summer, Lebanese security forces arrested two people working for the country’s state-owned Alfa cellphone company who allegedly allowed Israel to breach the communications network, a matter that has roiled the Lebanese Cabinet and prompted the government to announce that it would seek redress against Israel at the U.N. Security Council.

Three Lebanese nationals, one of whom was found guilty of providing Israel with sensitive information during its 2006 war with Hezbollah, have been sentenced to death for spying activities.

The motives vary, security officials said. Some of those apprehended have political gripes against Hezbollah.

“There are some political reasons, there are some psychological reasons,” the high-ranking security official said. “But mostly it’s money and sex.”

According to Lebanese security officials and intelligence experts, the alleged spies used sophisticated electronic devices to communicate with their handlers via coded messages. In May 2009, the intelligence branch of the ISF paraded some of the devices before an eager press corps. They included laptop computers, satellite phones, a tracking device hidden in the lid of a water cooler and a wooden chest installed with an apparatus for transmitting and receiving messages.

“If only part of this story is true, it means [Hezbollah] has been sharing its every step and move with a silent partner,” said Gad Shimron, a former Mossad officer and author of the book “Mossad Exodus.”

Over the last several years, Lebanon has doubled the number of officers working in counterintelligence. Security officials believed that their efforts are bearing fruit by dismantling a robust Israeli spy infrastructure they say has been in place in the country for decades.

“They were strong and we were weaker,” the Lebanese security official said. “The Israelis thought they had the technological edge that put them ahead of the Arabs by 30 years. But we showed them we’re catching up.”

But some analysts speculate that Lebanese security forces are giving themselves too much credit, and that Hezbollah, Iran and Syria may have contributed to the country’s apparent counterintelligence successes.

“Anecdotal data suggests Hezbollah is providing intelligence to ISF and LAF,” the Lebanese military, said Aram Nerguizian, a resident scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

Some of the successes involved blind luck. The alleged activities of Faqih, the SUV dealer, unraveled when a Hezbollah member took his car to a mechanic over a minor electrical problem.

“The electrician started testing here and there,” the Lebanese army officer said. “He found a wire leading to a strange device. He told the owner.”

Hezbollah detained Faqih soon afterward.

July 31, 2010|By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times

Find this story at 31 July 2010
Copyright 2017 Los Angeles Times

Rashid Khalidi: Obama’s Condemnation of Israeli Occupation Doesn’t Match His Last 8 Years in Office

Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia University. He’s the author of several books; his most recent is titled Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.

During Wednesday’s press conference, President Obama warned that the expansion of Israeli settlements was making a two-state solution impossible. “I don’t see how this issue gets resolved in a way that maintains Israel as both Jewish and a democracy,” Obama said, “because if you do not have two states, then, in some form or fashion, you are extending an occupation. Functionally, you end up having one state in which millions of people are disenfranchised and operate as second-class occupant—or residents. You can’t even call them ‘citizens’ necessarily.” We get response from Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia University. He’s the author of several books; his most recent is titled “Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.”

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, there was an interesting sort of geography to and diversity to the questions that President Obama answered, all clearly laid out in advance—eight reporters—five women, three men—a gay publication, urban radio. And also he took a question from Janet Rodríguez, White House correspondent for Univision, and Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, senior diplomatic correspondent for Al Arabiya News Channel. She asked President Obama about the Middle East and about particularly the Israeli occupation; President Obama, in his answer, warning that the expansion of Israeli settlements was making a two-state solution impossible.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I’ve said this directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu. I’ve said it inside of Israel. I’ve said it to Palestinians, as well. I don’t see how this issue gets resolved in a way that maintains Israel as both Jewish and a democracy, because if you do not have two states, then, in some form or fashion, you are extending an occupation. Functionally, you end up having one state in which millions of people are disenfranchised and operate as second-class occupant—or residents. You can’t even call them “citizens” necessarily. And so—so the goal of the resolution was to simply say that the settlements, the growth of the settlements, are creating a reality on the ground that increasingly will make a two-state solution impossible. And we’ve believed, consistent with the positions that have been taken with previous U.S. administrations for decades now, that it was important for us to send a signal, a wake-up call, that this moment may be passing. And Israeli voters and Palestinians need to understand that this moment may be passing. And hopefully, that then creates a debate inside both Israeli and Palestinian communities that won’t result immediately in peace, but at least will lead to a more sober assessment of what the alternatives are.
AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama yesterday, again, in the last 48 hours of his presidency. Rashid Khalidi also with us now, Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia University. Your response to what he said and what he has done over this past eight years?

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, he did what he’s been doing for eight years: He sent a signal. The most powerful country on Earth, the sole serious supporter of Israel, without whose support Israel couldn’t do anything, has now, yet again, for administration after administration, sent a signal that what Israeli governments have been doing for decades is going to lead to a one-state solution, in which Palestinians, as he said, are disenfranchised, are not even citizens and so on and so forth. So we have the diagnostician-in-chief telling us about this problem, which he and previous presidents have absolutely—done absolutely nothing to solve. The United States can, could, should act to stop this ongoing annexation, colonization and so forth, which has led to disenfranchisement. I mean, his analysis is impeccable, but his actions—as Professor Glaude said, his actions are just not in keeping with his words, and have not been over eight years in keeping with his words.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think needs to happen? What opportunity did he miss? So much has happened in the last few weeks, with Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech. You wrote a piece in The New York Times, as well as in The Guardian, saying, “too little, too late.”

RASHID KHALIDI: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: And now [President-elect Trump] appointing, if he’s approved, the ambassador to Israel, who is very much for, among other things, moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Nikki Haley just said—

RASHID KHALIDI: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —who would be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, she also endorses in her confirmation hearing yesterday.

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, the president-elect’s team includes people like his son-in-law, his nominee for ambassador to Israel and others, who are not just in favor of incendiary acts like moving the embassy, but are themselves major financial or political supporters of the Israeli settler movement. So we’re not just talking about people who are rhetorically in favor of this or that extremist position.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk specifically—you’re talking about Jared Kushner, who will be a top adviser—

RASHID KHALIDI: Jared Kushner.

AMY GOODMAN: —his son-in-law. David Friedman.

RASHID KHALIDI: David Friedman, the ambassador designate, and Jared Kushner are both, according to all the reports, major financial backers of the settlement movement. So, what we have in American and Israeli politics with the arrival of Trump is the completion of a convergence between the extreme right-wing settler, colonial regime that we have in Israel and a segment of the American ruling class, if you want. I mean, Jared Kushner is a major real estate entrepreneur, and he’s used many, many, many of his family’s millions to support not just charitable causes in Israel, but the settler movement, among many other extreme causes.

And so, what we’re seeing on the policy level, what we’re seeing on the media level, what we’re seeing in terms of people who are making political contributions to both the right-wing parties in Israel and American political parties is sort of a convergence of the two systems, but at a time when we’re going to have the most extreme—we have had the most extreme right-wing government in Israel’s history, and when we’re going to have a president who is in favor of things that are sometimes to the right even of that right-wing Israeli government, in terms of what his designees for various positions have said.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel President Obama paved the way for this?

RASHID KHALIDI: I think every American president who has stood by idly and just uttered words, like the president has done in his press conference and like the secretary of state did in his speech, and did nothing to actually stop this trend, that he so accurately described, are—they’re all responsible. He is certainly responsible. Had Security Council Resolution 2334 been passed in the first year of this president’s eight years, who knows what might have happened?

AMY GOODMAN: And explain what that resolution is—

RASHID KHALIDI: Well—

AMY GOODMAN: —that caused so much furor, at least on the part of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

RASHID KHALIDI: That resolution said that everything Israel has done in the Occupied Territories, in Jerusalem and the rest of them, is illegal. It has said that moving its population into occupied territories is a violation of the Geneva Convention, i.e. moving a half a million or 600,000 Israelis into territory occupied is illegal, that the acquisition of territory by force is illegal. And it went on to lay down various other parameters for a solution, including a two-state solution, and the ’67 borders as the basis of that. Now, none of this is new. The United Nations has said this again and again and again. This is a reiteration of Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967. It’s also a reiteration of positions that have been taken by every single American administration from President Johnson’s to George W. Bush’s, and this one, as well.

But had that been laid down as a marker, a slap in the face of the Netanyahu government, in 2009, when the president came into office, instead of mollycoddling them, instead of continuing to fund settlements—we fund settlements by giving American so-called charities 501(c)(3) status. The president could have reversed that on the first day he was in office, saying, “You cannot send money, tax-free money—you cannot reduce your taxes to support illegal occupation and colonization.” He didn’t do that. The Justice Department, the Treasury could have done that. So, we have financed by—we taxpayers, who are actually paying our taxes, have enabled people who are not paying our taxes, by making so-called charitable deductions, support the settlement movement. Jared Kushner is one of them. [David] Friedman is one of them. There are many, many others.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what do you think is possible now?

RASHID KHALIDI: With Trump as president? Well, I think that this is a—this should be a wake-up call for people in the United States who had some kind of idea of Israel as the light unto the nations, to wake up and realize that the United States has helped to create a situation in which Israeli Jews rule over disenfranchised Arabs, that this is not a light unto the nations. This is not really a democracy, if you have helots. He called them “not citizens.” Well, you can call them what you want. He said they’re disenfranchised. It’s actually worse than that. Go to the Occupied Territories. Go to Arab communities inside Israel. Look at what happened to a member of Knesset yesterday, shot in the face by Israeli border police, because he protested the demolition of a village in the south of Israel. You’re talking about people who, in some cases, nominally have rights—Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel—or in the Occupied Territories having really no rights, and both of whom live under an unjust and discriminatory regime. We have fostered that. We have helped to finance and fund that, all the while our political leaders talk about how wonderful Israel is, how its values and our values—well, these are Jim Crow values. The president talked about Jim Crow. What Israel is enforcing are worse than Jim Crow values. And I think we have to start talking and thinking in those terms and setting ourselves apart or understanding how to set ourselves apart from those kinds of practices that are discriminatory or racist.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think—what do you think it was that led President Obama to have the ambassador for—to have the United States abstain from this, at the very end of his two terms?

RASHID KHALIDI: I mean, I can’t speculate what was going on in his mind, why at the very end. It’s a really good question. I would love to have seen this eight years ago. Maybe it was his chance to get back at the slights and insults that he’s been receiving from Prime Minister Netanyahu over the past eight years, coming to Congress and attacking American—

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, Netanyahu, famously, to say the least, disrespects him.

RASHID KHALIDI: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: And yet President Obama has been more solicitous of Israel than all the previous presidents—

RASHID KHALIDI: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —from the Bushes on to Clinton, all involved with resolutions that were critical of Israel, but President Obama did not allow that to happen until now.

RASHID KHALIDI: Exactly. This is the first such resolution that has passed under Obama. Every—as you’ve just said, every previous American president has allowed or has sponsored resolutions that are just as harsh as this or involved elements of this resolution. So, maybe he was—you know, what he seems to be doing in his last few days, few weeks, few months, is to doing—is to do some of the things that maybe he wanted to do but felt he couldn’t do. And it’s really a terrible shame. I mean, this is a—this is a man who came into office, supposedly, with fresh ideas about how to deal with the Middle East. He appointed Senator Mitchell, who ultimately was undermined by people he himself had appointed, and was not able to do what he wanted to do. And from that point on, I think it really was downhill for this president, as far as the Middle East is concerned. His legacy is not a good one, as far as Arab-Israeli issues, as far as the Palestinians are concerned. Palestinians will not—and Arabs and, I would argue, Israelis should not remember this man’s legacy with any fondness.

AMY GOODMAN: Rashid Khalidi, professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, and Eddie Glaude, head of African American Studies at Princeton University, we thank you both for this conversation. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we look at some of the Senate confirmation hearings. To say the least, heated. Stay with us.

JANUARY 19, 2017

Find this story at 19 January 2017

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CIA Cover-Up Thwarted FBI’s Nuclear Diversion Investigations Evidence that missing uranium went to Israel withheld since 1968

According to formerly top-secret and secret Central Intelligence Agency files (PDF) released August 31 in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit (PDF), the agency’s long retention of key information ultimately stymied two FBI investigations into the 1960s diversion of weapons-grade uranium from a Pennsylvania-based government contractor into the Israeli nuclear weapons program.

The Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) was a nuclear fuel processing company founded by legendary chemist Zalman Mordecai Shapiro and financed by entrepreneur David Luzer Lowenthal. According to the Department of Energy, during Shapiro’s reign at NUMEC, the company lost more weapons-grade uranium – 337 kilograms after accounting for losses – much of a particularly unique and high enrichment level than any other U.S. facility. Losses only returned to industry norms after Shapiro, who later unsuccessfully tried to get a job working on advanced hydrogen bomb designs, was forced out of NUMEC.

In the 1950’s Shapiro developed vital breakthroughs for US Navy nuclear propulsion systems. In the 1940s Lowenthal fought in Israel’s War of Independence, serving as a smuggler who developed close contacts with high Israeli intelligence officials. An ardent supporter of Israel, Shapiro was Pittsburgh Chapter President of the Zionist Organization of America. According to the Jerusalem Post, Shapiro later joined the board of governors of the Israeli Intelligence Heritage Center, an organization that honors spies who secretly took action to advance Israel. NUMEC holding company Apollo Industries President Morton Chatkin also held a ZOA leadership role while Apollo Executive Vice President Ivan J. Novick went on to become ZOA’s national president. David Lowenthal, who raised capital for acquiring NUMEC’s facilities (an old steel mill in the center of the village) served as Apollo’s treasurer.

In 1968 CIA Director Richard Helms sent an urgent request for an investigation to Attorney General Ramsey Clark (PDF) stating “You are well aware of the great concern which exists at the highest levels of this Government with regard to the proliferation of nuclear weapons…It is critical for us to establish whether or not the Israelis now have the capability of fabricating nuclear weapons which might be employed in the Near East…I urge that the Federal Bureau of Investigation be called upon to initiate a discreet intelligence investigation of all source nature of Dr. Shapiro in order to establish the nature and extent of his relationship with the Government of Israel.” (PDF)

The FBI investigation documented Shapiro’s many meetings with top Israeli nuclear weapons development officials such as Avraham Hermoni and wiretapped a conversation representative of the overall lack of concern over worker safety and the environment by Shapiro and Lowenthal. The FBI discovered that NUMEC had formed a joint venture with the Israel Atomic Energy Commission called Isorad to supply food irradiators to Israel. The now-defunct Atomic Energy Agency questioned Zalman Shapiro in 1969 – never asking if he had diverted material – over his many meetings with Israelis known to the FBI to be intelligence operatives. After the AEC defended Shapiro and his continued holding of security clearances, the FBI terminated its intelligence investigation.

In 1976 the Ford administration reopened the NUMEC investigation in order to determine if a diversion had occurred and whether a government cover-up had ensued. The 130-page release is replete with formal CIA denials to Congressional Committee investigators, the GAO and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission inquiries about whether the CIA had participated in any illegal diversions, or whether it was aware of any presidential finding authorizing such an operation. Arizona Democrat Morris Udall asked bluntly on August 23, 1977 “Is it possible that President Johnson, who was known to be a friend of Israel, could have encouraged the flow of nuclear materials to the Israelis?” Citing CIA’s role in alerting the attorney general to the problem as evidence that it was not involved, the agency also repeatedly emphasized “we in CIA are not and have not been concerned with the law enforcement aspects of this problem. Indeed, Dick Helms turned the matter over to the FBI in order to avoid such involvement.” Rather, exploring the NUMEC-Israel link was part of CIA’s intelligence function to substantiate why its National Intelligence Estimate concluded Israel had a nuclear arsenal.

FBI special agents soon lost morale over being sent unprepared into a second investigation. The CIA, for its part, continued withholding critical information that could have provided both motivation and a tool for confronting hostile interviewees. This was according to the newly released CIA files “information…of obvious importance in reaching an intelligence decision on the probability of diversion, it is not of any legal pertinence to the FBI’s criminal investigation of NUMEC. In our discussions with the FBI we have alluded to this information but we have not made the details available to special agents from the Washington Field Office of the FBI who are working on the case. While Mr. Bush’s [then-CIA Director George H.W. Bush] conversations are not known to us, we have had no substantive discussions with officials at FBI Headquarters on this matter.” It was this sensitive CIA information, made available only to the president, cabinet, and a limited number of top agency officials that led one National Security Council staffer to conclude, “I do not think that the President has plausible deniability.”

On June 6, 1977 Associate Deputy Director for Operations Theodore Shackley briefed the FBI agents in charge of the NUMEC investigation. They grumbled that since they had not established that the diversion took place, they could not begin to address the second question about a cover-up. They then pleaded for “new information” from the CIA, blithely ignorant that their reasoning was completely backward – it was old information they required, and it was the CIA’s withholding of it that was the true cover-up. The FBI also thought it needed a NUMEC insider willing to blow the whistle in order to finally break the case open.

Unknown to the FBI, every CIA director was complicit in withholding a key clandestine operational finding from investigators. According to a May 11, 1977 report by Shackley, the “CIA has not furnished to the FBI sensitive agent reporting…since the decision was made by Directors Helms, Colby and Bush that this information would not further the investigation of NUMEC but would compromise sources and methods.”

Though carefully redacted from the CIA release, the omitted fact was likely that highly enriched uranium of a signature unique to NUMEC had been detected in Israel, a country that did not have facilities to enrich uranium. This sensitive information (PDF) was delivered to former Atomic Energy Commissioner Glen Seaborg by two Department of Energy investigators sifting for more facts about NUMEC in June of 1978. It was powerful enough evidence that the retired Seaborg subsequently refused to be interviewed by less informed FBI investigators.

The CIA noted FBI investigators “indicated that even if they came up with a case, it was extremely unlikely that Justice and State would allow it to come to trial…they feel that they have been given a job to do with none of the tools necessary to do it.” Although in 1981 special agents finally identified a former NUMEC employee who had personally witnessed the means of the diversion – Zalman Shapiro and other NUMEC officials stuffing HEU canisters into irradiators (PDF) sealed and rushed to Israel – lacking the missing CIA puzzle piece the FBI investigation went dormant as the statute of limitations for Atomic Energy Act violations – punishable by death – finally expired.

Grant F. Smith is the author of DIVERT! NUMEC, Zalman Shapiro, and the diversion of U.S. weapons-grade uranium into the Israeli nuclear weapons program. He currently serves as director of research at the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington (IRmep), D.C. Read other articles by Smith, or visit the IRmep website.

by Grant Smith, September 07, 2015

Find this story at 7 September 2015

Copyright © Antiwar.com 2015

U.S. Suspected Israeli Involvement in 1960s Missing Uranium (2014)

Officials Believed Ally Used Materials Lifted From Pennsylvania Toward a Weapons Program

Declassified documents from the 1970s provide new evidence that federal officials believed bomb-grade uranium that disappeared from a Pennsylvania nuclear facility in the 1960s was likely taken for use in a clandestine Israeli atomic-weapons program.

The documents, obtained earlier this year through public-records requests by a Washington-based nonprofit group, also indicate that senior officials wanted to keep the matter under wraps for fear it could undermine U.S. Middle East peace efforts.

Though the Central Intelligence Agency’s case for the suspected theft wasn’t conclusive, it was sufficiently persuasive that “I do not think that the President has plausible deniability” regarding the question, said a memo dated July 28, 1977, by a National Security Council staffer in President Jimmy Carter’s administration.

A security council memo to Mr. Carter a few days later expressed more uncertainty about whether a theft had occurred, but noted that then-Secretary of State Cyrus Vance had a coming Middle East trip and discussed the need to keep attention “away from the CIA’s information.”

The question of whether one of America’s closest allies was involved in the theft of some of its most valuable and dangerous material in pursuit of nuclear weapons has been one of the enduring mysteries of the atomic age. The suspected theft has drawn the attention of at least three presidents and other senior government officials.

The evidence suggested that “something did transpire,” said Zbigniew Brzezinski, Mr. Carter’s national-security adviser, in a recent interview. “But until you have conclusive evidence you don’t want to make an international incident. This is a potentially very explosive, controversial issue.” Besides, he added, even if a theft was proved, “What are we going to say to the Israelis, ‘Give it back?’ ”

Israel hasn’t ever said whether it has nuclear weapons. A spokeswoman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., declined to comment for this article.

So did a spokeswoman for the Obama administration, which like past U.S. administrations has declined to say whether it believes Israel has an atomic arsenal. A CIA spokesman also declined to comment.

Mr. Carter, who said at a 2008 gathering in Britain that he believes Israel has nuclear weapons, declined through a spokeswoman to be interviewed.

His diplomatic efforts as president, which helped produce a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1979, likely wouldn’t have been possible “if there was some huge scandal at the time about this,” said John Marcum, the staffer who wrote the July 28, 1977, memo, in a recent interview.

The theft suspicions surround events at a now-dismantled facility in Apollo, Pa., owned by a company called Nuclear Materials & Equipment Corp., or Numec. In the mid-1960s, some 200 pounds of bomb-grade uranium—enough possibly for several Hiroshima-sized bombs—couldn’t be accounted for there.

ENLARGE
An FBI investigation begun in the late 1960s, which drew interest from top Nixon administration officials, including the president, couldn’t determine what happened to the uranium, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agency documents. But FBI officials did raise questions about suspected dealings between Numec’s founder and president, Zalman Shapiro, and Israeli intelligence officials, according to government documents. Babcock & Wilcox Co., a nuclear-technology and energy company that acquired Numec in 1971, declined to comment.

In an interview late last year, the 93-year-old Mr. Shapiro, who has long argued the material had been lost in the production process, said that no theft took place. He said his dealings with Israel, where Numec had commercial activities, were legitimate and to his knowledge never involved intelligence officials.

Potentially crucial sections of the recently released documents—obtained by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, an organization that has been critical of Israel—remain classified.

The latest document release underscores the need for the government to declassify the remaining information about the suspected theft, some former federal officials say.

“We know the CIA thought the material was stolen. We want to know why they thought that,” said Victor Gilinsky, a former commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Government records show that a federal nuclear-enrichment facility in Ohio sent shipments to Numec containing the highest percentage of U235, the explosive form of uranium, ever known to have been produced, said Roger Mattson, another former NRC official.

Did the CIA later find that such uranium had turned up in Israel, as some documentary evidence suggests? “That’s not something that’s declassified,” said Jessica Tuchman Mathews, a national-security official in the Carter administration who wrote or received some of the recently declassified documents.

By JOHN R. EMSHWILLER
Updated Aug. 6, 2014 7:41 p.m. ET

Find this story at 6 August 2014

Copyright ©2015 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

ISRAELI SPECIAL FORCES ASSASSINATED SENIOR SYRIAN OFFICIAL

On Aug. 1, 2008, a small team of Israeli commandos entered the waters near Tartus, Syria, and shot and killed a Syrian general as he was holding a dinner party at his seaside weekend home. Muhammad Suleiman, a top aide to the Syrian president, was shot in the head and neck, and the Israeli military team escaped by sea.

While Israel has never spoken about its involvement, secret U.S. intelligence files confirm that Israeli special operations forces assassinated the general while he vacationed at his luxury villa on the Syrian coast.

The internal National Security Agency document, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, is the first official confirmation that the assassination of Suleiman was an Israeli military operation, and ends speculation that an internal dispute within the Syrian government led to his death.

A top-secret entry in the NSA’s internal version of Wikipedia, called Intellipedia, described the assassination by “Israeli naval commandos” near the port town of Tartus as the “first known instance of Israel targeting a legitimate government official.” The details of the assassination were included in a “Manhunting Timeline” within the NSA’s intelligence repository.

According to three former U.S. intelligence officers with extensive experience in the Middle East, the document’s classification markings indicate that the NSA learned of the assassination through surveillance. The officials asked that they not be identified, because they were discussing classified information.

The information in the document is labeled “SI,” which means that the intelligence was collected by monitoring communications signals. “We’ve had access to Israeli military communications for some time,” said one of the former U.S. intelligence officers.

The former officer said knowledge within the NSA about surveillance of Israeli military units is especially sensitive because the NSA has Israeli intelligence officers working jointly with its officers at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.

Brig. Gen. Suleiman was a top military and intelligence adviser to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, and was suspected of being behind the Syrian government’s efforts to facilitate Iran’s provision of arms and military training to Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon. Suleiman was also reported to have been in charge of the security and construction of Syria’s Al Kibar nuclear facility, which Israel destroyed in a 2007 air attack. The NSA document described part of Suleiman’s responsibilities as “sensitive military issues.”

Israel’s involvement in Suleiman’s assassination raises questions about both the purpose of the killing, as well as whether Israel violated international law in conducting the operation.

“The Israelis may have had many good reasons to kill [Suleiman],” said Mary Ellen O’Connell, a professor of international law at Notre Dame. “But under international law it’s absolutely clear that in Syria in 2008, they had no rights under the laws of war because at the time there was no armed conflict. They had no right to kill General Suleiman.”

The Assad government withheld news of the assassination for four days before announcing Suleiman’s death. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement.

According to a classified State Department cable published online by WikiLeaks, the Syrian government’s investigation into the killing turned up $80 million in cash in Suleiman’s home. “[Assad] was said to be devastated by the discovery, and, fearing [Suleiman] had betrayed him, redirected the investigation from solving his murder to finding out how the general had acquired so much money,” the cable noted.

Last year, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah told journalists that the Israeli government killed Suleiman, and that the assassination was “linked” to Suleiman’s role in the July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.

“For them it’s not only payback, but mitigates future operations,” said one of the retired intelligence officers, who has worked with the Israelis but does not have direct knowledge of the Suleiman assassination. “They will take a target of opportunity if it presents itself.”

The Israeli assassination of Suleiman came less than six months after a joint Mossad-CIA team assassinated a top Hezbollah operative in the heart of Damascus, according to several current and former U.S. military and intelligence officials. U.S. and Israeli involvement in that attack, which targeted Hezbollah operative Imad Mughniyeh, was first reported in detail by the Washington Post. The CIA had long sought Mughniyeh for his role in several terrorist attacks against Americans, including the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, which left 241 American service members dead.

The NSA declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister did not respond to several requests for comment.

Matthew Cole
July 15 2015, 1:23 p.m.

Find this story at 15 July 2015

Copyright https://firstlook.org/theintercept/

US said preparing to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard

Officials say chances of life-termer going free ‘better than ever’ as US seeks to sooth Israel over Iran; Justice Department denies report

The Obama administration is preparing to release Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted in 1987 of spying for Israel, in hopes of alleviating tensions over the Iranian nuclear deal, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

According to US officials cited in the report, some are pushing for Pollard’s release in a matter of weeks, while others say it could take months. Still other US officials mentioned in the report denied any link between the Iranian nuclear deal and Pollard’s potential release.

ABC News’ managing editor tweeted Friday night that US officials had confirmed to ABC that the former Navy analyst was set to be released in November, when he is eligible for parole.

But the Justice Department said it expected Pollard to serve out his entire sentence.

“The Department of Justice has always and continues to maintain that Jonathan Pollard should serve his full sentence for the serious crimes he committed, which in this case is a 30-year sentence as mandated by statute,” said spokesman Marc Raimondi.

“Mr. Pollard’s status will be determined by the United States Parole Commission according to standard procedures,” added National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey. “There is absolutely zero linkage between Mr. Pollard’s status and foreign policy considerations.”

Israeli government officials — including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself — activists, and even members of Congress have for decades lobbied successive US administrations for Pollard’s release.

There have been several reports in US media in recent months alleging that Pollard may be released later this year.

Last week, one of Pollar’s attorneys, Eliot Lauer, told the Times of Israel that he has received no indication of this.

“We have not received any word, and I would expect that either I or my client would be the ones who would be notified,” he said. Lauer is a member of Pollard’s pro bono legal team, and has represented him for over two decades.

The 61-year-old Pollard is serving a life sentence in a US federal prison for passing classified information to Israel; he was granted citizenship by Israel 20 years ago. The flurry of reports reflect a US government website that lists Pollard’s release date (under ID number 09185-016) as November 21, 2015 – a date that would coincide with the 30th anniversary of his arrest.

Lauer noted that November 21, 2015, has been listed as a release date for Pollard for decades.

US government site showing Jonathan Pollard’s scheduled release date
US government site showing Jonathan Pollard’s scheduled release date

In order for Pollard to be released, a Notice of Action must first be issued – and presumably, it is Pollard’s legal team which would receive it first. According to Lauer, no such Notice of Action has been received.

Lauer said the authorities could issue such a notice shortly before Pollard’s release date.

Although Pollard is serving a life sentence under a Federal law that allows the possibility of parole, he is the only American citizen who has been sentenced to life in prison for passing classified information to a US ally.

The US has at times considered releasing Pollard, but has been met with fierce opposition by some in the CIA, the FBI and the Justice Department. This could again be the case if indeed the Obama administration is considering it, but “[Pollard’s] chances at winning freedom are better now than they have ever been,” according to the WSJ report that attributes the belief to unnamed US officials.

There have been multiple false starts and reports over the years indicating that Pollard’s release was imminent. During his farewell visit as president of Israel to Washington DC last year, Shimon Peres pressed President Barack Obama for Pollard’s release.

In August 2014, a request by Pollard for parole was denied, with the officials arguing that releasing Pollard would “constitute contempt for the severity of the offense and promote a lack of respect for the law.”

AP contributed to this report.

BY REBECCA SHIMONI STOIL AND TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF July 24, 2015, 11:29 pm 43

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© 2015 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

Capturing Jonathan Pollard

De Amerikaanse voormalig spion Jonathan Pollard zit een levenslange gevangenisstraf uit. Als werknemer bij de VS Marine Inlichtingendienst stal hij honderdduizenden geheime documenten en verkocht die aan Israël. De man die hem ontmaskerde, schreef er een boek over.

Bradley Manning wordt verdacht van het lekken van geheime documenten van de Amerikaanse overheid. Deze documenten werden openbaar gemaakt voor Wikileaks. Nog voordat Manning een eerlijk proces heeft gekregen, zit hij al een ruim een jaar in eenzame opsluiting.

De omvang en gevoeligheid van de Wikileaks-documenten vallen echter in het niet in vergelijking met het aantal geheime stukken dat Jonathan Pollard begin jaren ’80 aan de Israëliërs heeft overhandigd. Pollard werkte voor de Naval Intelligence Service. Van juni 1984 tot zijn aanhouding in november 1985 wandelde hij bijna dagelijks het gebouw van de Naval Intelligence Command uit met een tas vol top secret documenten.

De Amerikaanse overheid schat dat hij ruim een miljoen stukken aan de Israëliërs heeft overhandigd. Een van de stukken was het tiendelige boekwerk Radio-Signal Notations (RASIN), een gedetailleerde beschrijving van het netwerk van de wereldwijde elektronische observatie door de Amerikanen.

Pollard onderzocht

Capturing Jonathan Pollard werd in 2006 door de Naval Institue Press gepubliceerd. Het boek is van de hand van Ronald Olive, destijds werkzaam voor de Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). Als medewerker van de NCIS kreeg Olive in 1985 de taak om te onderzoeken of Pollard geheime stukken lekte.

Het onderzoek volgde op een tip van een medewerker van de Anti-Terrorism Alert Center (ATAC) van de NIS, de afdeling waar Pollard werkte. Deze man zag Pollard het gebouw uitlopen met een stapel papier. De stapel was verpakt in bruin inpakpapier en tape met de code TS/SCI, Top Secret/Sentive Compartmented Information. TS/SCI is een nog zwaardere kwalificatie als top secret.

Pollard stapte met de stukken bij zijn vrouw Ann in de auto. Nog even dacht zijn collega dat Pollard naar een andere inlichtingendienst, zoals de DIA (Defense Intelligence Service) zou rijden om daar de documenten af te geven. Dit leek onwaarschijnlijk omdat Pollard eerder tegen hem had gezegd dat hij verkeerde documenten had besteld bij het ‘archief’ en dat hij deze nu moest terugbrengen en vernietigen. Pollard en Ann reden echter een geheel andere kant op.

Olive beschrijft vervolgens de ontmaskering van Jonathan en Ann. In Pollards werkruimte wordt een camera opgehangen die registreert hoe de spion een aktetas vol TS/SCI documenten propt en het gebouw verlaat. Pollard en zijn vrouw ruiken onraad en proberen de sporen van spionage te wissen. Ann moet een koffer vol super geheime documenten, die in hun huis liggen, vernietigen. Zij raakt in paniek en de koffer belandt bij de buren.

Gevoelige snaar

Het boek van Ronald Olive is nog even actueel als het eerste boek dat over deze spionagezaak is verschenen in 1989, Territory of Lies: The American Who Spied on His Country for Israel and How He Was Betrayed.

Begin dit jaar wordt een petitie, ondertekend door meer dan 10.000 Israëliërs, aan de Israëlische president Shimon Peres gezonden. Hierin roepen politici, kunstenaars en andere bekende en onbekende Israëliërs de president op om Pollard vrij te krijgen. Op 1 september 2010 berichtte de LA Times zelfs dat de vrijlating van Pollard de bevriezing van de bouw van Israëlische nederzettingen in de bezette gebieden zou verlengen.

Pollard raakt kennelijk een gevoelige snaar, zowel in Israël als in de Verenigde Staten. Schrijver Olive op zijn beurt bevindt zich in een gezelschap van allerlei mensen die er voor ijveren om de spion zijn gehele leven achter slot en grendel te houden, hoewel levenslang in de Verenigde Staten niet echt levenslang hoeft te zijn. Bij goed gedrag kunnen gevangenen na dertig jaar vrijkomen.

In 1987 werd Pollard veroordeeld tot levenslang na een schuldbekentenis en toezegging dat hij de Amerikaanse overheid zou helpen bij het in kaart brengen van de schade die hij door zijn spionage-activiteiten had veroorzaakt. Die schade werd door de toenmalige minister van Defensie Casper Weinberger vastgelegd in een memorandum van 46 pagina’s, welke nog steeds niet openbaar is gemaakt. Pollard’s vrouw kreeg vijf jaar gevangenisstraf voor het in bezit hebben van staatsgeheime documenten.

Capturing Jonathan Pollard is geen spannend fictie / non-fictie boek met een twist, zoals Spywars van Bagley. Olive beschrijft droog het leven van de spion vanaf het moment dat hij bij de CIA solliciteert, tot aan de dag van zijn veroordeling. Natuurlijk is de schrijver begaan met de geheimhouding van Amerikaanse strategische informatie en verbaast het niet dat hij bij het verschijnen van het boek in 2006 een pleidooi hield om Pollard niet vrij te laten.

Niet kieskeurig

Hoewel de volle omvang van het lekken van Pollard niet duidelijk wordt beschreven, blijkt dat Pollard niet bepaald kieskeurig was. De Israëliërs hadden hem lijsten meegegeven van wat zij graag wilden hebben, vooral informatie over het Midden-Oosten, maar ook over de Russen en operaties van de Amerikanen in het Middellandse Zee gebied.

Zodra Pollard echter stukken langs ziet komen die ook voor andere landen interessant zouden kunnen zijn, probeert hij ook daar te winkelen. Zo poogt hij geheime documenten aan de Chinezen, Australiërs, Pakistani en de Zuid-Afrikanen, maar ook aan buitenlandse correspondenten te slijten.

Het gegeven dat landen elkaars strategische informatie en geheimen proberen te stelen, is niet nieuw. Het bestaan van contra-spionage afdelingen toont aan dat geheime diensten daar zelf ook rekening mee houden. De Australiërs dachten dan ook dat Pollard onderdeel uitmaakte van een CIA-operatie. Hoewel ze dat eigenlijk niet konden geloven, vermeed hun medewerker Pollard en werd de zaak niet gemeld bij Amerikaanse instanties.

Als onderdeel van thrillers en spannende lectuur zijn de spionage praktijken van Pollard, zoals Olive die beschrijft, niet bijster interessant, want het leidt af van waar het werkelijk om draait. Daarentegen is het boek van grote waarde waar het gaat om de beschrijving van de persoon Pollard, de wijze waarop hij kon spioneren, zijn werkomgeving, de blunders die worden gemaakt – niet alleen het aannemen en overplaatsen van Pollard, maar ook de wijze waarop geheimen zo eenvoudig kunnen worden gelekt – eigenlijk de totale bureaucratie die de wereld van inlichtingendiensten in zijn greep heeft.

Hoewel deze persoonlijke en bureaucratische gegevens niet breed worden uitgemeten – Olive is zelf een voormalig inlichtingenman – verschaft het boek een veelheid aan informatie daarover. De schrijver lijkt die persoonlijke details specifiek aan Pollard te koppelen, alsof het niet voor andere medewerkers zou gelden.

Opschepper

Dit gaat ook op ook voor de gemaakte fouten van de bureaucratie rond de carrière van de spion. Zo lijkt Pollard van jongs af aan een voorliefde te hebben gehad om spion te worden, of in ieder geval iets geheims te willen doen in zijn leven. Tijdens zijn studie schept hij erover op dat hij voor de Mossad zou werken en had gediend in het Israëlische leger. Zijn vader zou ook voor de CIA werkzaam zijn.

Aan deze opschepperij verbindt Olive een psychologisch element. Het zou een soort compensatie zijn voor de slechte jeugd van Pollard die vaak zou zijn gepest. Ook zijn vrouw zou niet bij hem passen omdat die te aantrekkelijk is. Pollard moet dat compenseren door stoer te doen. Later, toen hij voor een inlichtingendienst werkte, voelde hij zich opnieuw het buitenbeentje. Zijn carrière verliep alles behalve vlekkeloos, regelmatig werd hij op een zijspoor gezet.

Olive schetst een beeld van een verwend kind, dat niet op juiste waarde werd ingeschat en stoer wilde doen. Was Pollard echter zoveel anders dan zijn voormalige collega analisten of medewerkers van de inlichtingendienst? Werken voor een inlichtingendienst vereist een zekere mate van voyeurisme, een gespleten persoonlijkheid. Buiten je werk om kun je niet vrijelijk praten over datgene waar je mee bezig bent.

Dat doet wat met je psyche, maar trekt ook een bepaald soort mensen aan. Het werk betreft namelijk niet het oplossen van misdrijven, maar het kijken in het hoofd van mogelijke verdachten. Het BVD-dossier van oud-provo Roel van Duin laat zien dat een dienst totaal kan ontsporen door zijn eigen manier van denken. Dat komt echter niet voort uit de dienst als abstracte bureaucratie, maar door toedoen van de mensen die er werken.

Roekeloos

Pollard gedroeg zich arrogant en opschepperig, misschien wel om zijn eigen onzekerheid te maskeren. Dergelijk gedrag wordt door de schrijver verbonden aan zijn spionage-activiteiten voor de Israëliërs. Pollard was echter niet getraind in het lekken van documenten en ging verre van zorgvuldig te werk. Hij deed het zo openlijk dat het verbazingwekkend is dat het zo lang duurde voordat hij tegen de lamp liep. Hij zei bijvoorbeeld tegen de Israëliërs dat zij alleen de TS/SCI documenten moesten kopiëren en dat ze de rest mochten houden.

In de loop van de anderhalf jaar dat hij documenten naar buiten smokkelde, werd hij steeds roekelozer. Dat hij gespot werd met een pak papier onder zijn arm terwijl hij bij zijn vrouw in de auto stapte, was eerder toeval dan dat het het resultaat was van grondig speurwerk van de NCIS.

Eenmaal binnenin het inlichtingenbedrijf zijn de mogelijkheden om te lekken onuitputtelijk. Als Pollard wel getraind was geweest en zorgvuldiger te werk was gegaan, dan had hij zijn praktijk eindeloos kunnen voorzetten. Welke andere ‘agenten’ doen dat wellicht nog steeds? Of welke andere medewerkers waren minder roekeloos en tevreden geweest met het lekken van enkele documenten?

Die medewerkers vormen gezamenlijk het systeem van de dienst. Pollard schepte graag op, maar de schrijver van Spy Wars, Bagley, klopte zich ook graag op de borst en, hoewel in mindere mate, Ronald Olive ook. Iets dat eigenlijk vreemd is, als het aantal blunders in ogenschouw wordt genomen nadat Pollard ontdekt was. Alleen omdat de Israëliërs Pollard de toegang tot de diplomatieke vestiging ontzegden, zorgde ervoor dat hij alsnog gearresteerd en levenslang kreeg in de VS. Hij was echter bijna ontsnapt.

Blunders

Het is daarom niet gek dat inlichtingendiensten een gebrek aan bescheidenheid vertonen. Vele aanslagen zijn voorkomen, wordt vaak beweerd, maar helaas kunnen de diensten geen details geven. Het klinkt als Pollard, op bezoek bij Olive, die breed uitmeet dat hij die en die kent op de Zuid-Afrikaanse ambassade en of hij die moet werven als spion. Olive was werkzaam voor de NCIS. Pollard bezocht hem voordat hij werd ontmaskerd. Zijn eigen gebrek aan actie in relatie tot de twijfels over Pollard toont aan dat geen enkel bureaucratisch systeem perfect is, ook niet dat van inlichtingendiensten.

Het is niet verbazingwekkend dat de carrière van Pollard bezaaid is met blunders. Hij werd dan wel afgewezen door de CIA, maar waagde vervolgens een gokje bij een andere dienst en had geluk. Hij werd bij de NIS aangenomen en kroop zo langzaamaan in de organisatie. De fouten die bij het aannamebeleid en bij de evaluaties van Pollard zijn gemaakt, worden door Olive gepresenteerd als op zichzelf staand, maar de hoeveelheid blunders en gebrekkige administratie lijken zo talrijk dat het geen toevalstreffers zijn.

Bij elke promotie of overplaatsing lijkt slechts een deel van zijn persoonsdossier hem te volgen. De NIS wist vanaf het begin niet dat Pollard eerder door de CIA werd afgewezen. Als zijn toegang tot geheime documenten wordt ingetrokken, wacht Pollard net zo lang tot bepaalde medewerkers zijn overgeplaatst of vertrokken. Hij wordt dan wel afgeschilderd als een verwend kind dat met geheimen speelt, regelmatig moet Olive echter toegeven dat Pollard een briljant analist is. Pas in de laatste maanden van zijn spionage-activiteiten, lijdt zijn werk onder de operatie om zoveel mogelijk documenten naar buiten te smokkelen.

Waarom Pollard de Amerikaanse overheid schade toebracht, wijdt Olive vooral aan zijn joodse afkomst. Niet dat de schrijver alle joodse Amerikanen verdenkt, maar een belangrijke reden voor het fanatiek lekken wordt verklaard aan de hand van Pollard’s wens om naar Israël te emigreren. Olive gaat echter voorbij aan het geld dat de spion aan zijn activiteiten verdiende. Aanvankelijk 1.500 dollar per maand, na een paar maanden 2.500 en twee volledig verzorgde reizen met zijn vrouw naar Europa en Israël en tot slot een Zwitserse bankrekening met jaarlijks een bonus van 30.000 dollar.

Los van de Zwitserse rekening schat de Amerikaanse overheid dat Pollard rond de 50.000 dollar aan zijn spionagewerk heeft overgehouden. Eigenlijk niet eens veel in vergelijking met de één miljoen documenten die hij leverde. De onderhandelingen over het geld maken echter duidelijk dat Pollard wel degelijk geïnteresseerd was om zoveel mogelijk te verdienen. De prijs werd gedrukt omdat de Israëliërs niet erg toeschietelijk waren en Pollard ze sowieso wilde helpen.

Afkomst

Zijn joodse afkomst zat hem in de weg, want waarschijnlijk had hij alleen al voor het tiendelige boekwerk Radio-Signal Notations (RASIN) 50.000 dollar kunnen krijgen. Uiteindelijk blijkt Pollard een gewoon mens die de verlokking van het geld niet kon weerstaan. Andere agenten zijn hem voorgegaan en hebben zijn voorbeeld gevolgd.

Het nadeel van zijn afkomst blijkt ook uit het feit dat hij zijn Israëlische runner een ‘cadeautje’ gaf. Aviem Sella had mee gevochten in de zesdaagse Yom Kippur oorlog en was een van de piloten die de Iraakse kernreactor in Osirak bombardeerde. Pollard gaf hem destijds satellietbeelden van die aanval. Sella wordt nog steeds gezocht voor Verenigde Staten voor spionage.

De operatie werd door een andere veteraan, Rafi of Rafael Eitan, geleid. Onder diens leiding spoorde de Mossad Adolf Eichmann op. Eitan en Sella werden rijkelijk beloond voor hun werk met Pollard, maar moesten hun promoties inleveren omdat de Amerikanen eind jaren ’80 furieus reageerden. Na de arrestatie van Pollard beweerden de Israëliërs dat ze helemaal niet zoveel documenten hadden gekregen van de spion en de onderhandelingen over teruggave uiterst stroef waren verlopen.

Uiteindelijk werd maar een fractie van de documenten teruggegeven aan de Amerikanen. De Israëliërs waren vooral bezig om na zijn veroordeling Pollard vrij te krijgen. Premier Nethanyahu sprak vorig jaar de Knesset toe over het lot van Pollard, terwijl de Israëlische ambassadeur in de VS hem juli 2011 bezocht in de gevangenis.

Tot nu toe lijken de Amerikanen niet van zins om hem vrij te laten. Na de veroordeling van Pollard kwam de campagne Free Pollard op gang. Zijn vrouw verdween uit beeld. Niet alleen Israëliërs nemen deel aan de campagne, maar ook Alan Dershowitz, professor aan de Harvard Law School en andere academici. In het laatste hoofdstuk More sinned against than sinning beschrijft Olive enkele andere spionnen die documenten verkochten aan buitenlandse mogendheden.

Capturing Jonathan Pollard was nog niet gepubliceerd toen de stroom Wikileaks-documenten op gang kwam. Die documenten laten echter zien dat een waterdicht systeem niet bestaat en dat mensen voor geld of om andere redenen geheime stukken lekken. De Wikileaks-documenten onderstrepen dat er sinds de jaren ’80 weinig is veranderd. Met als enige verschil de hardvochtige wijze waarop verdachte Manning in deze zaak wordt behandeld en de gebrekkige aandacht die hij krijgt van professoren en andere betrokkenen bij de Wikileaks-documenten.

Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How One of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice. Auteur Ronald J. Olive. Uitgeverij US Naval Institute Press (2006).

Find this story at 19 June 2012