Archive for the ‘Covert Operations’ Category

VaticanJULY 2, 2013

Three men, including a senior Vatican official and a police officer with ties to the Italian Secret Service, have been arrested on charges of plotting to smuggle millions of euros out of Switzerland. Among the men arrested by Italian police on Friday is Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a senior accountant at the Holy See’s Institute for the Works of Religion, which is the Vatican’s highest financial institution. Along with Father Scarano, Italian authorities arrested Giovanni Maria Zito, an officer in the Arma dei carabinieri, Italy’s national military police force, who was previously detailed to the country’s domestic intelligence service, the Agenzia Informazioni e Sicurezza Interna (AISI). The third accused co-conspirator is Giovanni Carenzio, a successful securities broker based primarily in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. All three have been charged with corruption, for plotting to smuggle nearly €20 million ($26 million) in cash, from Switzerland into Italy. According to Nello Rossi, chief prosecutor in the corruption investigation, evidence collected from targeted communications interceptions seems to indicate that the smuggled funds belonged to the d’Amico family of shipping magnates, owners of d’Amico International Shipping, which is based in Salerno, Italy. The plan, allegedly hatched last summer by the three men, was to hire a private airplane and use it to carry the €20 million in cash from Locarno, Switzerland, to Italy. The currency was to be carried in suitcases by Zito. As an intelligence officer with diplomatic credentials, Zito was not subject to searches at international borders, and thus would be able to evade financial regulations. However, Italian prosecutors said the plan fell through when the three plotters “lost their nerve [and] began bickering” amongst each other. Financial corruption scandals are regular occurrences at the Vatican, whose banking institutions are notorious as secretive money-laundering centers frequently used by the Mafia and other crime syndicates. In a statement last week, the Holy See’s spokesman, Monsignor Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican was eager to “confirm its willingness for full collaboration” with Italian authorities and InterPol, and that it would “take the appropriate measures” to assist in any investigation into the matter.

June 25, 2013

A friend of Michael Hastings told Fox News today that the Rolling Stone journalist was working on the “the biggest story yet” about the CIA before his suspicious death and that Hastings drove “like a grandma,” making it extremely out of character for him to be speeding in the early hours of the morning.

Sgt. Joe Biggs told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that “something didn’t feel right” after Hastings sent a panicked email saying the authorities were on his tail, adding that the story of him driving at high speed in the early hours of the morning was completely out of character.

“His friends and family that know him, everyone says he drives like a grandma, so that right there doesn’t seem like something he’d be doing, there’s no way that he’d be acting erratic like that and driving out of control,” said Biggs, adding that “things don’t add up, there’s a lot of questions that need to be answered.”

Biggs said he had contacted Mercedes asking them if it was normal for their cars to “blow up to that extent” and for the engine to fly out 100 feet from the site of the crash.

Biggs also confirmed that Hastings was working on a story about the CIA and that it was “going to be the biggest story yet.”

As we reported yesterday, questions surrounding the death of Hastings are not only the domain of conspiracy theorists. Former counter-terror czar under two different presidents Richard Clarke told the Huffington Post that the fatal crash of Hastings’ Mercedes C250 Coupe was “consistent with a car cyber attack.”

“So if there were a cyber attack on the car — and I’m not saying there was,” he said, adding “I think whoever did it would probably get away with it,” and that “intelligence agencies for major powers” have such capabilities.

Clarke’s speculation that Hastings’ vehicle could have been remotely hijacked is echoed by Salon.com’s Andrew Leonard, who cites two studies by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, “Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Vehicle,” and “Comprehensive Experimental Analyses of Automotive Attack Surfaces.”

The studies detail how “it is a relatively trivial exercise to access the computer systems of a modern car and take control away from the driver.”

Questions about the circumstances behind Hastings’ death have persisted because he made a number of enemies in positions of power.

After Wikileaks reported that Hastings had contacted them in the hours before his death complaining about being under investigation by the FBI, the federal agency denied the claim.

According to Hastings’ colleague Cenk Uygur, the writer was, “incredibly tense and very worried, and was concerned that the government was looking in on his material,” and also a “nervous wreck” in response to the surveillance of journalists revealed by the AP phone tapping scandal and the NSA PRISM scandal.

BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith added that Hastings had told friends and family “he was concerned that he was under investigation.”

Another close friend who wishes to remain anonymous said that Hastings was “very paranoid that he was being watched by the FBI.”

It subsequently emerged that Hastings had written a panicked email shortly before his death telling his friends and colleagues that he was going into hiding to escape the attention of the authorities.

“Hey — the feds are interviewing my “close friends and associates,” the message said. “Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the [radar] for a bit.”

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Foxnews.com

On the eve of an infamous presentation Anwar al-Awlaki gave at the Pentagon in 2002, the Al Qaeda operative was busy preparing — with a prostitute he paid $400 for at a Washington hotel.

It was one of more than a half-dozen liaisons Awlaki had with prostitutes between late 2001 and early 2002, while he was under FBI surveillance, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch and reviewed exclusively by Fox News.

The documents shed new light on the double life the American-born Awlaki was leading, while living in the Washington area and working as an imam at a mosque in Falls Church, Va.

In the years before he became publicly associated with Al Qaeda and was targeted for death by the U.S. government, Awlaki was by turns welcomed and investigated by different arms of the government — not just over his radical ties, but his predilection for prostitutes.

Yet there is no indication he was ever brought up on charges, leading Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton to question why the cleric seemed to have a “protected status.”

One document obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, was a June 2002 memo from FBI Assistant Director Pasquale D’Amuro detailing Awlaki’s encounters with prostitutes in the D.C. area. The memo appeared to propose charges against him, claiming he spent $2,320 on seven different occasions between Nov. 5, 2001, and Feb. 4, 2002.

It described in detail an interview with the “escort” who saw him on Feb. 4, the day before he was scheduled to have lunch at the Pentagon as an invited guest.

She claimed she had a 5 p.m. appointment with him that day, and when he arrived at her room, “she looked through the ‘peep’ hole … and thought to herself that he looked like Osama bin Laden.”

She later identified him as Awlaki.

He paid $400 for sex, the memo said. He was described by the escort as “very polite.” Awlaki, who has a record with prostitutes — he was booked in San Diego on charges of soliciting prostitutes in the late ’90s — also told the escort that he likes to use escort services when he travels to Florida, according to the memo.

The memo described in graphic detail the services rendered for Awlaki during that period. One prostitute described a December 2001 encounter where Awlaki paid $300, in order to watch “as she engaged in erotic behavior and stimulated herself.”

They met again, for the same activities, in mid-January 2002, according to the document.

Fox News was first to report in 2010 that Awlaki was invited to the Pentagon within months of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as part of an outreach effort with supposedly moderate Muslims.

Awlaki would later emerge as a major mouthpiece for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, being linked to recent attacks including the Fort Hood shooting as well as the attempted Christmas Day bombing on a Detroit-bound flight.

He was the first American known to be included on the government’s kill-or-capture list. He was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011.

One document obtained by Judicial Watch also depicted what was described by the group as a “computer database record” retrieved in February 2002, before his Pentagon lunch. It listed Awlaki’s name and included the warning to “approach with caution,” listing him under the heading of “terrorist organization member.”

Fitton said the new documents raise questions about the relationship between Awlaki and the U.S. government.

“One can fairly conclude that the al-Qaeda mastermind had some type of ‘protected status’ with our government — despite his terrorist and criminal activities,” Fitton said. “We knew from days after the attacks on the World Trade Centers that (Awlaki) was a dangerous character, so why did it take the government ten years to bring him to justice?”

Fox News asked the FBI for comment, specifically on why Awlaki apparently was not prosecuted and whether the information on his alleged liaisons was shared with the Pentagon. The FBI has not yet commented on the documents.

Read Full Article 

CNN just a couple of months ago confirmed that contractors hired by the Pentagon were in fact training the terrorists in the use of chemical weapons.

And now we have a statement by a United Nations Independent Commission, which has confirmed unequivocally — and it was revealed on the same day — that the terrorists who are backed by the United States and its allies, they are in possession of deadly sarin nerve gas, which they are using against the civilian population.”

Pentagon Contractors trained Syrian Terrorists to use Chemical Weapons http://real-agenda.com/2013/05/09/pen…

Press TV has conducted an interview with Michael Chossudovsky, Center for Research on Globalization, Montreal about the statement made by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that Syria is able to face Israel. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/05/…

Free Syrian Army rebels defect to Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra – The well-resourced organisation, which is linked to al-Qaida, is luring many anti-Assad fighters awayhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/…

It’s Dishonest to Talk about Benghazi Without Talking About the Syrian War http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/0…

U.S. ex-soldier charged with using RPG for al Qaeda grouphttp://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/28/jus…

RT talks to Mark Mazzetti – author of “The Way of The Knife: The CIA, A Secret Army, and A War at the Ends of the Earth”.

May 29, 2013

A team of academics have launched the world’s largest interactive database detailing suspected CIA rendition flights, many of which may have transported detainees to Guantanamo Bay.

Scotland is the only country so far which has raised any questions on the alleged rendition activity on home soil.

The Rendition Project is a product of a collaborative research between Dr. Ruth Blakely from the University of Kent and Dr. Sam Raphael from Kingston University, London.

Now anyone with an internet connection can understand, view, and track over 11,000 CIA flights detainees may have been aboard between 2001 and 2006 under the US rendition program, a murky operation of secret detention and torture.

“Our purpose is to shed as much light as possible on this system,” Blakely told RT.

Blakely’s team has compiled a unique database sourced from freedom of information requests, testimonies from detainees, Red Cross reports, courtroom evidence, flight records, and invoices.

The data is categorized into four subcategories- flights which definitely had a detainee on board, those which are suspected of having suspected terrorists on board, and ‘dummy’ or test flights, and other circuit flights, all on 122 different US-registered civilian aircraft.

“Our main aim was to try and map the global rendition system to try and provide a comprehensive a picture as possible how rendition took place, which countries were involved,” Blakely told RT.

Most information was already in the public domain, but Blakely hopes by making it web-accessible, the project will assist human rights investigators and lawyers to defend the rights of detainees who have been victims to unfair torture or questionable tactics.

The site will help reveal “how the CIA managed to hide individuals in this system as it transported them around the world to hold them in prisons where they could be tortured and interrogated,” said Blakely.

Abu Zubaydah. (Image from wikipedia.org)

Abu Zubaydah. (Image from wikipedia.org)

High profile detainee

Among those profiled on the website is Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi Arabian currently being held in custody at Guantanamo Bay, without any official legal charge brought against him. Zubaydah was first captured during the Bush administration, and in 2006 was transferred to Guantanamo.

The Rendition Project believes he was first caught in Bangkok, and may been on board eight different rendition flights, as he was transported around the globe to different CIA black spots.

A suspected terrorist, Zubaydah claims he was water boarded 83 times during August 2002 while he was held at a US detention site in Thailand.

A screenshot from the new database which lets users track flights by data, detainee, and location. Image from therenditionproject.org.uk

A screenshot from the new database which lets users track flights by data, detainee, and location. Image from therenditionproject.org.uk

‘Conclusive’ new proof

Blakely and her team believe they have found ‘conclusive’ new proof that CIA planes regularly landed at three Scottish airports under the rendition program.

Aberdeen, Inverness, and Wick were all allegedly used to carry out secret US missions, according to the website.

Blakely’s study shows evident that five flights landed at Wick, five at Inverness and three at Aberdeen, all allegedly part of the US missions.

During a question and answer session in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill acknowledged the allegation that his government took part in the rendition program.

In an almost empty chamber, Scottish Parliament member Patrick Harvey, a Scottish Green party co-convener, questioned Justice Secretary MacAskill about the alleged touch-downs.

A flight check-in area is pictured at Aberdeen Airport in Scotland, where 3 CIA Rendition flights allegedly landed. (AFP Photo / Scott Campbell)

A flight check-in area is pictured at Aberdeen Airport in Scotland, where 3 CIA Rendition flights allegedly landed. (AFP Photo / Scott Campbell)

“The Scottish government strongly opposes illegal rendition flights. No representations have been received by the Scottish government regarding these flights,” MacAskill answered.

Until there is hard and concrete evidence, according to MacAskill, Scotland will not make any formal accusations against the US or any other involved parties in the flights.

Blakely’s investigative team shows a flight which landed at Wick in 2004 was “flying to a secret prison and torture destinations.”

The CIA’s black sites in over 54 countries have been allegedly used to detain and torture suspected terrorists, and to hold them in custody before being transported to the prison at Guantanamo Bay and other torture and detention centers worldwide.

The EU parliament has previously called upon Poland, Lithuania, and Romania to reveal any ‘black sites’, or airports used to aid the CIA’s secret rendition program.

May 9th, 2013

While combat troops have been withdrawn from Iraq, and the Afghan war now involves less US troops all the time, the US is still involved in either fighting or helping some struggle thought to be useful in the “war on terror” in numerous countries.

Altogether the US is involved in 74 different countries. The US Central Command is active in 20 countries in the Middle East busy ramping-up military training, counterterrorism programs and providing logistical support for local military allies.

The US military is the world’s largest landlord. Not only does it have long-established bases in Germany, Japan, South Korea and the UK but also has a significant presence in Bahrain, Djibouti, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Kosovo, and Kyrgyzstan. Some bases are large. The Al Udeid Air Force Base in Qatar, the forward base of the Central Command can accommodate up to 10,000 troops and 120 aircraft.

The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) supports “military-to-military” relationships with 54 different African nations. The “war on terror” is used as a justification to project US power and develop relationships with numerous national military forces throughout the globe.

Going beyond these relationships in many cases, US Special Forces operate in numerous countries. Jeremy Scahill writes in “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield”: “By mid-2010, the Obama administration had increased the presence of Special Operations forces from sixty countries to seventy-five countries. SOCOM had about 4,000 people deployed around the world in countries besides Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The Joint Special Operations Command, Special Forces, under Obama, have operated in Iran, Georgia, Ukraine, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Yemen, Pakistan and the Philippines. Teams have also been at times operating in Turkey, Belgium, France and Spain. They also support US Drug Enforcement operations in Columbia and Mexico.

The Obama administration has embraced targeted assassinations and expanded drone attacks far beyond those of the Bush era. Most expanded operations involve small numbers of troops that may barely register in the media or the public mind. For example, in February, 100 US military personnel were deployed to Niger, to assist in intelligence collection to aid the French in their operations in neighboring Mali.Troops have also been sent to Jordan in small numbers but could be significantly expanded. A number of troops have also been sent to South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic in connection with attempts to apprehend Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Obama officials might argue that all of these operations are just a single conflict, the war on terror–although officially the term “war on terror” is no longer used. The president has the authority to order the operations through the Authorized Use for Military Force (AUMF) law passed shortly after the 9/11 attacks. In other situations the actions could be defended by classifying them as not combat roles at all since the US military operates as advisers who help the military operations of allied forces.

However, the reality is that the US is involved militarily throughout the globe directly in conflicts or in helping other forces that are often used as proxies to advance US interests. These new wars have much smaller footprints than earlier wars. While advancing the interests of the US and the military-industrial-complex, there is minimal political fallout due to the lack of casualties and of media attention to what is happening.