Weekly Intelligence Notes #05-02
WIN 05-02 dated 4 Feb 2002
Weekly Intelligence Notes (WINs) are produced by Roy Jonkers for non-profit educational uses by AFIO members and ISIS associates. Don Harvey contributes articles to the WINs.
Readers -- This WIN was hit by computer problem that "ate" half of the material. My apologies to those promised mention or space that was destroyed. . (RJ)
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DCI ASSESSMENT OF INTELLIGENCE AND THE WAR ON TERRORISM -- CIA Director George J. Tenet warned on 5 February, in a rare public appearance before the Senate Intelligence committee that Osama bin Laden's terrorist network has not been destroyed and is working on plans for new attacks against the United States. He revealed that newly discovered documents found in Afghanistan "show bin Laden was pursuing a sophisticated biological weapons research program." (see Section III below) Earlier information had shown the terrorist leader was seeking to acquire radioactive materials for a "dirty" bomb, but there had been no hard evidence he was pursuing biological weapons.
The DCI discussed a range of other issues, covering a number of countries, with a particular concern that the reform movement in Iran "is losing its momentum," Discontent is growing toward President Mohammad Khatami and his supporters, who have been unable to "break the hold on power maintained by the non-elected clerics, security forces and the judiciary." He also noted that the long-standing U.S. advantage in space surveillance "is eroding as more countries, including China and India, field increasingly sophisticated reconnaissance satellites."
The Director also strongly - and effectively - defended the Intelligence Community against charges of "intelligence failure," responding to his strongest critic, Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), vice chairman of the committee. Tenet said that a "heroic effort on the part of the FBI and CIA inside the United States and overseas" ensured that 5 to 15 expected attacks on the US homeland did not occur. Massive threats in early 2001 were met with disruption efforts that also "stopped three or four American facilities from being bombed overseas. Stating that he also was shocked by the Sept. 11 attacks, Tenet voiced his belief that the operational tempo of al Qaeda declined overseas during last summer. "It was very clear that what had been planned had been delayed." He insisted that no one missed "a piece of information out there," but rather that the specific terrorist attack plans probably resided "in the head of three or four people" in al Qaeda. Detailed profiles of the 19 hijackers, Tenet said, showed they were all legally in the United States and were " sleepers," agents who gave no hint of what they were doing or intended to do. In the end, Tenet concluded, "all you can do is continue to make the effort to steal that secret and break into this leadership structure." He said progress has been made in penetrating al Qaeda with informants and eavesdropping but added, "There will be nothing you do that will guarantee 100 percent certainty. It will never happen."
Although he mentioned no names, a significant part of his overall presentation was directed at al Qaeda, Iraq and Iran and their work on missiles and other weapons of mass destruction, and the Arab-Israeli violence that "threatens to weaken the political center in the Arab world." If Palestinian terrorist groups, which now focus their attacks on Israelis, "feel that U.S. actions are threatening their existence they may begin targeting Americans directly." (Jonkers) (Wash Post, 7 Feb, 2002, Pg. 1//W. Pincus) ( www.cia.gov )
AFGHANISTAN TARGETING -- A few weeks ago, on 7 January, Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem, JCS Deputy Director for Operations, remarked at a press briefing "We're going to stop chasing the shadows of where we thought [Osama bin Laden] was and focus more on the entire picture of the country." By design or extension, this was interpreted in the media as an expression of frustration by the 'operators' ( who need hard data to bomb targets) with the intelligence reports they were receiving. Disregarding the obviously smashing success of the campaign, some of the media reporters concluded that there was a 'rift' between the Pentagon's operators and the intelligence community.
Quite likely related to this dust-up were the frequent reports of erroneous US targeting and bombing. Car convoys, villages and extended families have been wiped out by bombing, probably triggered by false or deceptive tip-off's motivated by either tribal or personal feuds or by Taleban/al Qaeda deceptions. It is probable that some of our special forces and CIA troopers do not have much grounding in the convoluted intricacies of Afghanistan's feudal tribal society, and furthermore, that Command pressure on producing rapid results and the demands of near-real-time targeting may well have resulted in occasional shortcuts and inadequate analysis of raw intelligence. Afghanistan's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, fresh from his successful tour of the US, has protested the erroneous bombings, and the US has extended apologies and money to survivors. These 'mistakes' are exceptions, but nevertheless a shortcoming that may be (and perhaps has been) exploited by the opposition. Perhaps that was what the good admiral referred to in his briefing. (Jonkers) (Associated Press // StratFor 9 Jan 02 // Wpost & WashTimes 6 Feb02)
AL QAEDA's COMPUTER TRACKS -- Thanks to the rapidity of the Taleban collapse and evacuation of Kabul, a desktop computer containing four years worth of text and videos files was captured intact -- sold by a looter in Kabul to a Wall Street Journal reporter for $1,100. The computer's hard drive contained a repository of correspondence with militant Muslims around the world, portraying al Qaeda bosses struggling to administer, inspire and discipline the sprawling global organization. Dating from early 1997 through this fall, the files paint a picture of both ambitions and frustrations within an organization that, despite its medieval zealotry, sometimes mimics a multinational corporation. Memos refer to al Qaeda as "the company" and its leadership as "the general management."
Many of the documents stored on the computer focus on housekeeping matters, particularly funding and personnel problems. Complaints about money and unpaid salaries turn up frequently. "I am almost broke," wrote one operative. "The money I have may not last until the feast. Please send money or bring it to us as soon as possible." Another pinched activist was told to find a house for just $30 a month.
Frequent users of the computer, who left their names or aliases on dozens of files, appear to have included two top lieutenants of Mr. bin Laden: Dr. Zawahri and Mohammed Atef. Dr. Zawahri is a former Cairo surgeon who merged his own Egyptian terror outfit with al Qaeda in 1998, and is widely regarded as Mr. bin Laden's chief strategist. Mr. Atef, killed in a November bombing raid near Kabul, headed al Qaeda's military wing. U.S. officials believe he masterminded the lethal 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The computer files do not detail the plotting of Sept. 11th. However, soon after the earlier 1998 African bombings the computer files show al Qaeda embarking on its potentially deadliest project -- a biological- and chemical-warfare program, nicknamed Zabadi, the Arab equivalent of "curdled milk." Particularly encouraging, a letter in the computer files said, was a home-brew nerve gas made from insecticides and a chemical additive that would help speed up penetration into the skin. A file dated 7 May 1999 indicates that al Qaeda leaders had earmarked $2,000 to $4,000 for "start-up" costs of the program. U.S. officials, citing satellite photos and intelligence gathered from local residents, say that an elderly Egyptian scientist named Abu Khabab experimented with nerve gas on dogs and rabbits at a camp near the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. It isn't clear how far al Qaeda got in making nerve gas.
But a memo written in April 1999, apparently also by Dr. Zawahri, is exceptionally noteworthy, After commenting that "the destructive power of these weapons is no less than that of nuclear weapons," he then continues by lamenting al Qaeda's sluggishness in realizing the utility of these weapons. He notes that "despite their extreme danger, we only became aware of them when the enemy drew our attention to them by repeatedly expressing concern that they can be produced simply." Perhaps Zawahri was not in the loop. Or perhaps the many years in which our Government sought to alert the US population to this danger found its mark -- awakening the opposition to the terrible potential uses of this menace. The President has now asked for a 300% increase in bioterrorism protection funding. (Jonkers) (Wall St Journal // A. Cullison & A. Higgins; WPost 6 Feb02, pA3)
SECRETS OF SIGNALS INTELLIGENCE DURING THE COLD WAR AND BEYOND, by Matthew M. Aid and Cees Wiebes, Frank Cass, Portland, Or., 2001, 332 pages, Index. (ISBN 0 7146 8182 2 (paper). Inevitably we tend to be parochial in our perspective on intelligence and often forget or dismiss the efforts of others, particularly our allies. Some of us cannot speak, still constrained by classification restrictions, particularly relevant in the world of Signals Intelligence, and I do not comment on either the veracity of the desirability of the contents of this book. But it cannot and should not be ignored. It serves to open the mind's windows, and is a very interesting read for understanding the worldwide intelligence world, opening an unusual window on the activities of some of our allies and on US-allied cooperation and competition in intelligence programs. It has a special relevance and significance in the current era of the "war" on terrorism where international cooperation on intelligence has a central role.
The book contains a series of essays covering the US, British, Canadian, German, French, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Dutch SIGINT services and liaison programs, fully footnoted and academically authoritative. It covers the UKUSA relationship and that with the so-called "Third Party" nations in great detail.
One (among many) of the interesting thematic threads running this collection of essays by experts from several nations is the extent to which these allied services were deeply involved in economic espionage on each other. This book is worth reading for that reason alone. Let me provide some quotes:
(1) "..there was a secret arrangement with the main Postal and Telegraph office in Amsterdam where all open but also coded and ciphered telegrams were brought..Here copies were made. Via intercepts the (Dutch) TIVC collected much intelligence for Dutch industry. In particular intelligence about foreign tenders and contracts was of importance to companies and firms. In addition, SIGINT on large construction projects like airports harbors, irrigation, etc. was also looked for.. The TIVC also intercepted German contract information dealing with the construction of frigates for foreign governments. This enabled the Dutch shipyards for example to present bids which were more attractive than the German ones." But "the German services like the BND outsmarted the Netherlands by intercepting Dutch tenders, enabling the Germans finally to get the contract."
(2) "Canadian SIGINT was involved in targeting non-security-related economic targets of opportunity . . . CSE intercepts were said to have been instrumental in enabling Canada to out-compete the United States in a $5Billion wheat sale to China in 1981.."
(3) "France is heavily involved in economic espionage. Exposes in the French press have revealed that the DGSE . have spied on the US since the early 1960's, including conducting economic intelligence collection against American multinational corporations such as Boeing, IBM, Corning Glass and Texas Instruments. . Some of the operations were conducted by French agents in New York city and Washington. But the majority of the intelligence collected was derived from SIGINT intercepts of American commercial communications. The US, however, was not the only target . In 1974 (for example) the listening post at Boullay-ces.Trois was tasked with intercepting West German and British commercial communications."
(4) "GCHQ (UK) has been deeply involved in economic espionage since the end of World War II.. The simple fact that GCHQ is openly advertising on its website that it is looking for linguists who speak the languages of the EU is an indication that this SIGINT service is still involved in targeting its allies."
What is the conclusion by the authors? That, in the final analysis, "there are no friendly intelligence services.. In the world of SIGINT all members of NATO and the EU spy on each other. . the major services are probably reading the ciphers and codes of the other . . ."
And also, " This work demolishes the long held myth that only the NSA is 'the principal evil' in the world of SIGINT. It turns out that no targets are safe from the SIGINT services whether they originate from small or large countries."
Highly recommended reading! (Jonkers)
SCIENCE AND THE WAR ON TERRORISM -- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) will host a by-invitation -only conference in March, called "Scientists Helping America, " to explore innovative approaches to a variety of military needs from signature reduction to directed-energy weapons. For conference announcement and application information, see: http://safe.sysplan.com/scihelpamerica/ad.html
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