The Spy Brief: Dead Drop: 30 June 2018


Here are some recent intelligence and security stories that you might have missed but which are informative and even fun. Truth is not infrequently stranger than fiction, especially in espionage. Enjoy!

Vienna wants Berlin to comment on reports that German intelligence (BND) was spying on Austria with a far-reaching SIGINT program. Good luck with that.

NSA is moving all its TS/SCI to the new IC Gov Cloud – which sounds to any counterintelligence person like an effort to just make it easier for the next Snowden to steal everything.

Trump’s State Department is missing the boat on cyber stuff. I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked.

“Which is the greatest threat? Russia, of course!” explains the former GCHQ director in a presentation on cyber threats.

FSB claims to have unmasked another foreign spy acting against Russia, this time for Romania. Count me skeptical.

Far-right attacks on Roma in Ukraine by a shadowy gang calling itself (I’m not kidding) the Misanthropic Division are actually an SVR-orchestrated provocation. Well, yeah.

Turkish MFA claims the FBI is investigating Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) presence in 20 U.S. states. This is one of those weird stories you’d think the MSM might dig into a bit.

MOSSAD director says his service has secret ties to countries which don’t diplomatically recognize the state of Israel. Can confirm.

Israel has always had serious leak problems in its spy agencies – and according to SHABAK it’s getting worse.

The Kremlin’s secret influence campaign in Egypt is having some important successes, according to this detailed assessment.

Revealed: CENTCOM has been bombing Yemen an awful lot – 44 air strikes in 2016, then 131 in 2017, big jump.

WANTED: Gen Jamil Hassan, head of Syrian AF Intelligence, a top Assad lieutenant and senior human-rights-abuser in Damascus.

Assessing the PRC’s comprehensive espionage-propaganda-subversion political warfare campaign against Australia. Important stuff.

Afghan Interior Ministry admits the Taliban are operating in all areas of the country. 17 years into our war there. #WINNING

Another crafty spy pigeon captured, this time in India. Couldn’t cats fix this problem and lower the espionage threat?

Europe is broadly way ahead of the USA in fighting Kremlin disinformation, and in protecting elections from Kremlin interference.

Islamist terrorism plus Russian spying and subversion remain the top threats to British security, explains the Security Service (MI5) director.

29 yo Tunisian arrested in Germany on terrorism charges, specifically producing ricin (!) for an attack, was in touch with ISIS multiple times, but was not an official member of the terror gang.

Admit it, who wouldn’t prefer to conduct counterterrorism ops in the sun-drenched Caribbean rather than some dump in Central Asia or in deepest, darkest Africa?

UN human rights office concludes rule of law is “virtually absent” in Venezuela as government thugs murder opponents with impunity.

Whoops: “The current threat environment no longer met the threshold of a CSIS investigation.” Not great timing there, guys.

US IC’s counterintelligence czar tells Kaspersky to try harder – setting up a “Transparency Center” in Switzerland is just cosmetics.

Remember the US laptop ban on airplanes? Here’s the interesting UK spy backgrounder on how and why that happened.