Weekly Intelligence Notes #37-01
WIN #37-01 dated 17 September 01
WINs include commentaries on intelligence-related issues and events, produced by Roy Jonkers for AFIO members and for subscribers.
A L N
O T E S
NOTE 2) We have posted a statement on the terrorist attack on our Homeland on our Website (www.afio.com). It includes a reference to what AFIO can do for members with relevant expertise. Also, a proposed AFIO "Letter to the President" has been submitted to the Board for approval. It will be provided to you soon. In addition, the AFIO Executive will, through the WINs, the Website and special communications, address issues that may be of use in members' discussions with the public.
NOTE 3) We have been inundated with hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls. They are appreciated. Please excuse a delay in responses!
NOTE 4) As to the AFIO Symposium and Convention on 2/3 November, White House Intelligence Director Mary Sturtevant has confirmed her participation as a speaker, as has DCI Intelligence Community Management Staff Director Joan Dempsey. Honorary Board Member Shirley Temple Black regrets that she has another engagement. We are honored that former DCI James Woolsey has graciously consented to be the keynote speaker at the AFIO Awards Banquet. All speakers will be authoritative on the attack on the US Homeland on September 11th and the continuing battle against terrorism.
NOTE 5) SPONSOR A NEW MEMBER TODAY!!
SECTION I - CURRENT INTELLIGENCE
IRA TERRORISTS TRAINING COLOMBIAN REBELS -- The arrest of three suspected Irish Republican Army members in Colombia, on charges of training local rebels, indicates the country's largest guerrilla group is laying the strategic and tactical groundwork to expand Colombia's civil war into densely populated urban areas such as Bogot�, Medellin and Cali. An urban strategy spells a bloody sea change in guerrilla war tactics.
The incident exposed links between the FARC, Colombia's largest guerrilla group, and the IRA that extend to still-unidentified groups or individuals in Cuba, Venezuela, Panama, Nicaragua and El Salvador. The widening ripple of violence could affect foreign commercial concerns still active in Colombia, such as U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Canada's Alberta Energy Co. And there are signs that the FARC may be considering attacks on U.S. military and civilian contractors elsewhere -- a possible 'asymmetric' response to the massive US military and special forces intervention in the country.
The arrested IRA operatives are skilled in the use of mercury-tilt switches designed to blow up people in cars and radio-controlled "command" bombs for use against armored vehicles, technologies that would significantly enhance the FARC's explosives-handling capabilities. They are also believed to be experts in the design and manufacture of increasingly effective homemade mortars for use against military and political targets in Northern Ireland and England. British security sources reportedly believe that the IRA members were schooling FARC rebels in mixing high-powered synthetic explosives to extend the range of homemade gas cylinder mortars. The FARC needs to extend the roughly 400-meter range of its homemade mortars because of better defenses at military compounds built with American aid. This implies the guerrillas are considering attacks on the compounds, which typically house U.S. military and civilian defense personnel assigned to Plan Colombia, an anti-drug initiative.
Colombian officials have described the FARC-IRA link as a "business relationship" in which the IRA trades advanced explosives-handling techniques for drugs, cash or illegal weapons. Colombian security experts believe the IRA members were part of a much larger Cuban-led undercover operation training the rebels. No matter the cause and effect, the US-drug war or the indigenous guerilla war, the chicken or the egg, this region promises to become the source of increased intelligence priorities and expanded military involvement. (Jonkers) (Boston Herald, 2 September 01) (courtesy L. Sulc)
IRAQI TERRORISM -- Aman, the Israeli military intelligence service, is giving publicity to intelligence reports pointing to Iraq as a sponsor of terrorist activity. They state that Iraq has established ties with Al-Qaeda. They identify two the Lebanese Imad Mughniyeh, head of the special overseas operations for Hizbullah, and the Egyptian Dr Ayman Al Zawahiri, senior member of Al-Qaeda and possible successor of the ailing Osama Bin Laden, as terrorist masterminds being used by Iraqi intelligence. The Israeli sources claim that for the past two years Iraqi intelligence officers were shuttling between Baghdad and Afghanistan, meeting with Ayman Al Zawahiri.
"We've only got scraps of information, not the full picture," admits one intelligence source, "but it was good enough for us to send a warning six weeks ago to our allies that an unprecedented massive terror attack was expected. We believe that the operational brains behind the New-York attack were Mughniyeh and Zawahiri, who were probably financed and got some logistical support from the Iraqi Intelligence Service (SSO)."
According to the Aman sources of this publicity, experts on Iraq and Saddam Hussein also believe that Iraq was the state behind the two terror masterminds. "In recent months, there was a change, and Iraq decided to get into the terror business. On July 7th, they tried for the first time to send a suicide bomber, trained in Baghdad, to blow up Tel Aviv airport (Foreign Report No. 2651)." Clearly, among the potential targets of the US anti-terrorist war it appears that Iraq will probably soon loom large, for a number of reasons. The Aman publicity given to sensitive terrorist intelligence may be to prepare the ground for this event. (Jonkers) (JANES TERRORISM AND SECURITY MONITOR) (courtesy Tony Newcomb)
SECTION II - CONTEXT AND PRECEDENCE
AL-QAEDA -- During the 1980s,
resistance fighters in Afghanistan developed a world-wide recruitment
and support network with the aid of the USA, Saudi Arabia and other
states. After the 1989 Soviet withdrawal, this network, which
equipped, trained and funded thousands of Muslim fighters, came under
the control of Osama bin Laden.
THE LEADER - Osama bin Laden, alias Osama Mohammad al Wahad, alias Abu Abdallah, alias Al Qaqa, born in 1957, is the son of Mohammad bin Awdah bin Laden of Southern Yemen. When he moved to Saudi Arabia, Osama's father became a construction magnate and renovated the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, making the Bin Ladens a highly respected family both within the Saudi royal household and with the public. At Jeddah University, Osama bin Laden's worldview was shaped by Dr Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian of Jordanian origin. An influential figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, Azzam is regarded as the historical leader of Hamas. After graduation, Bin Laden became deeply religious.
At the height of the foreign Arab and Muslim influx
into Pakistan-Afghanistan from 1984- 1986, Bin Laden spent time
traveling widely and raising funds in the Arab world. He recruited
several thousand Arab and Muslim youths to fight the Soviet Union, and
helped to channel several billion dollars' worth of Western
governmental, financial and material resources for the Afghan jihad.
He worked closely with Pakistan, especially the Inter Services
Intelligence (ISI), the Saudi government and Egyptian governments, and
the vast Muslim Brotherhood network.
THE ORGANIZATION - Al-Qaeda is organized with
Bin Laden, the emir-general, at the top, followed by other Al-Qaeda
leaders and leaders of the constituent groups. Horizontally, it is
integrated with 24 constituent groups. The vertical integration is
formal, the horizontal integration, informal. Immediately below Bin
Laden is the Shura majlis, a consultative council. Four committees -
military, religio-legal, finance, and media - report to the majlis.
Handpicked members of these committees - especially the military
committee - conduct special assignments for Bin Laden and his
operational commanders. To preserve operational effectiveness at all
levels, compartmentalization and secrecy are paramount.
Bin Laden's cadres are drawn from a 50,000 strong pool of two generations of Afghan veterans. The first generation fought in the multinational Afghan campaign in 1979-89, the second generation in campaigns in Tajikistan, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Kashmir, Mindanao, Chechnya, Lebanon, Nagorno-Karabakh, Algeria and Egypt. These fighters are devout Muslims inspired by Islamic scholars and are willing to sacrifice their lives for Islam.
Al-Qaeda support and operational cells have been
detected and neutralized in Italy, Germany, UK, Canada, USA, Tanzania,
Kenya, Yemen and Albania, but they have since been replaced. Cells
have also been identified in about 50 countries including Somalia,
Eritrea, Sudan, and the Philippines.
Bin Laden also cemented ties with Jaish Aden Abin al
Islami of Yemen, and members of several small Islamist parties from
Tunisia, Libya, Morocco and elsewhere also joined. With the exception
of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayaaf Group (ASG),
Al-Qaeda links with Asian Islamist groups, notably those fighting in
Kashmir, developed in the second half of the 1990s.
Al-Qaeda is resilient for four principal reasons:
Nonetheless, Al-Qaeda is not invulnerable. Thanks mainly to US intelligence agencies, Al-Qaeda suffered gravely since the embassy bombings in '98, and will suffer more after the September 2001 missions. There remains a high capacity to replenish losses and wastage. Nevertheless, Al-Qaeda can be destroyed with the allocation and sustained application of resources, political courage, legal and diplomatic tools. The key to disrupting, degrading and destroying Al-Qaeda lies in developing a multipronged, multidimensional and multinational strategy that targets the core and the penultimate leadership and the network's sources of finance and supplies. That is what is being done. (Slightly edited version of excellent report in Jane's Intelligence Review, 1 August 2001, Special Report /// written by Phil Hirschkorn, Rohan Gunaratna, Ed Blanche, and Stefan Leader) (courtesy PJK)
SECTION II - CONTEXT AND PRECEDENT
INTELLIGENCE LEGISLATION AND INTELLIGENCE FAILURES -- Congressional sources indicate that proposed intelligence legislation will include provisions designed to remove impediments imposed on CIA, FBI and Defense Department intelligence agents over the past quarter century.
For those who are searching for a reason for the so-called "intelligence failure" so horribly on display last week one answer proposes that it was the result of political and legal attacks on our Intelligence establishment and operations going back to the 1970s witch hunts of the Church committee.
A key reason that we don't have the intelligence we need to thwart terrorism is that we have spent many years actively discouraging good agents from getting it. If one had to single out the moment that our nation moved from an intelligence to anti-intelligence footing, it came 26 years ago this week, when front pages across America featured a photograph of Senator Frank Church, the Idaho liberal, brandishing a special dart gun that ex-CIA director William Colby had brought to the committee hearings. In Senator Church's view, the CIA was a "rogue elephant on the rampage," and the image of the dart gun underscored the accusation that our agents were goon squads.
That was the same year that CounterSpy magazine published the names of CIA agents around the world.
Human source intelligence particularly has been reeling ever since. Under President Jimmy Carter human intelligence (espionage) was slashed and dozens of CIA's most experienced operations officers were sacked. Similar actions were taken in the Department of Defense. The leadership at the time clearly chose intelligence technology over human intelligence ( which was most likely to involve them in trouble on the Hill) to satisfy their primary intelligence collection needs. A second wave of pressures from Congressional and human rights advocates during President Clinton's administration further restricted the types of agents that could be used -- they had to be scrubbed for their human rights credentials. A host of other Congressionally mandated restrictions came in, including those preventing the CIA from using cover as journalists, clergy or aid workers.
Over at the FBI, meanwhile, Congressional and media inquisitions led to similar administrative changes. Dedicated field agents who had spent their careers investigating groups such as the Weather Underground--with the tacit approval of several Presidents--suddenly faced the prospect of criminal indictments. The prosecutions were nixed, but President Ford's Attorney General, Benjamin Levi, handed down similar restrictions. Under the Levi guidelines, agents could not begin investigating suspect groups until after a crime had been committed. Agents tell us that such were the restrictions that they were not even allowed to collect newspaper clippings.
The street agents got the message, and though restrictions were eased during the Reagan years, counter-intelligence has never fully recovered. The best and the brightest left the Bureau for criminal work, where it was still possible to catch bad guys. As Attorney General John Ashcroft notes, it's easier today to get a wiretap on a suspected drug dealer than on a terrorist. And other requests by Mr. Ashcroft--such as his plea to allow wiretapping authority to be directed at a person (who may use several phones) rather than one specified line, or to monitor financial dealings of suspected terrorists--suggest just how out of touch the legal framework is. It speaks of the perverse incentives today that among the Bremer Commission's recommended reforms is having intelligence agents know they are insured against personal liability lawsuits.
Many years ago, after the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, President Reagan said such attacks were harder to spot because of an attitude that "spying is somehow dishonest and let's get rid of our intelligence agents. " And that was done. Our message must be that there are greater evils in this world than U.S. intelligence agencies, and that espionage and related clandestine operations are an essential part of our national defense. (Jonkers) ( adapted from Wall Street Journal editorial - -"How America Dismantled its Intelligence Capabilities", Sept 18, 2001)
SECTION III CYBER INTELLIGENCE
NIPC WARNS OF DISTRIBUTED DENIAL-OF-SERVICE [DDoS]
ATTACKS -- The National Infrastructure Protection Center, the
FBI's cyber security agency, issued an advisory Tuesday warning
against the possibility of increased distributed denial-of-service
attacks coming as a result of the last week's terrorist attacks
against targets in New York and near Washington, D.C.(Levine 19 Sep
TERRORISTS USED INTERNET -- There is new
evidence suggesting the terrorists who carried out last week's attacks
in New York and Washington used the World Wide Web to help coordinate
their deadly efforts. "They used the Internet and they used it
well," an FBI official said of the 19 men who hijacked four
passenger airliners last Tuesday, steering three of them into the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon.(Levine)
ELECTRONIC INTELLIGENCE LEGISLATION TO BE REVISED
-- The Bush administration will ask for more power to eavesdrop on
phone calls, the Internet and voicemail messages, according to an
outline of a bill obtained by Wired News. In response to last week's
catastrophic terrorist attacks, President Bush plans to ask Congress
to approve far-reaching legislation that rewrites U.S. laws dealing
with electronic surveillance, immigration and support for
HACKER DECEPTION ALTERS NEWS STORIES ON PRESIDENT
BUSH -- A computer security researcher was able to edit and alter
wire stories posted on Yahoo.com's SecurityFocus.com. The researcher
rewrote a story, subtly changing some facts and attributing faked
comments to President George W. Bush.(Levine)
HACKERS STRIKE MIDDLE EASTERN SITES -- Saying
the U.S. government hasn't sufficiently responded to last week's
terrorist attacks, a group of vigilante hackers has taken matters into
its own hands and defaced some 200 to 300 Middle Eastern government
Web sites and those of Palestinian Internet service providers. The
group says it plans to destroy Web servers and Internet access in
Afghanistan. "This is the 21st century, the world of technology
belongs to us," says a 21-year old computer security worker from
Ohio who uses the name "Hackah Jak." He is the founder of
the group of 60 computer professionals from around the world who call
themselves the Dispatchers.(Levine)
NIMDA WORM MAY BE PEAKING -- The outbreak of the Nimda computer worm, which has spread rapidly across the Internet, appeared to have peaked Wednesday for the powerful server machines that drive the Web, but the number of infected PCs may never be known, computer security experts said. (Levine) http://www.siliconvalley.com/docs/news/tech/025805.htm
A "TARPIT" THAT TRAPS WORMS -- Network administrators now have a hacking tool that can help them strike back at malicious attackers. "LaBrea" is a free, open-source tool that deters worms and other hack attacks by transforming unused network resources into decoy-computers that appear and act just like normal machines on a network. But when malicious hackers or mindless worms such as Nimda or Code Red attempt to connect with a LaBrea-equipped system, they get sucked into a virtual tarpit that grabs their computer's connection -- and doesn't release it.(Levine) http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,46964,00.html
TECH FIRMS JOIN FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM -- The
use of existing and emerging technologies is essential to the fight
against terrorism, analysts say. Counter-terrorism is now one of the
nation's top priorities, President Bush said last week. The government
has already allocated billions of dollars to the cause, and US
agencies such as the CIA and the FBI are expected to bulk up their
staffs and resources in the near future.(Levine)
TECHNOLOGIES TO PROTECT PASSENGERS --
Governments and airlines seeking to reduce the threat of airplane
hijackings by terrorists have a wide range of security technologies to
choose from. Much of the spotlight will be on biometrics systems,
which identify travelers by fingerprints, the patterns in their
retinas, their voices or other individual characteristics. (Levine)
SECTION IV - BOOKS AND SOURCES
PATTERNS OF GLOBAL TERRORISM 2000,
U.S. Department of State (Publication 10822), April 2001. US policy is
described succinctly: (1) Make no concession to terrorists and strike
no deals; (2) bring terrorists to justice for their crimes, (3)
isolate and apply pressure on states that sponsor terrorism to force
them to change their behavior, and (4) bolster the counter-terrorist
capabilities of those countries that work with the US and require
assistance. Last year's policy stands today, except that it is now
enforced by the US military and unrestricted clandestine operations.
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