Wikileaks Afghanistan: leak inquiry centres on US intelligence analyst

The investigation into the biggest leak in US military history centres on a US Army intelligence analyst who allegedly boasting online that he was going to reveal "the truth" about the war in Afghanistan.
 
Bradley Manning is currently awaiting court martial
Bradley Manning is currently awaiting court martial Photo: AP
Bradley Manning, 22, was arrested in Baghdad in May and charged earlier this month with multiple counts of mishandling and leaking classified data, after a computer hacker turned him in.
During online chats with the hacker, a man thought to be Mr Manning said he had passed material relating to Afghanistan to Julian Assange, the founder of the Wikileaks website which leaked more than 92,000 secret documents to the media.
Mr Manning, who is currently awaiting court martial, is widely assumed to have been the man who passed the documents to Mr Assange, though investigators believe he must have had accomplices.
Mr Manning is alleged to be a whistle-blower who used the online name Bradass87 when he contacted a high profile Californian computer hacker, Adrian Lamo, on May 21.
Over the following five days, Bradass87 held a series of online conversations with Mr Lamo, in which he identified himself as "an army intelligence analyst, deployed to eastern Baghdad" with "unprecedented access to classified networks".
He said his job gave him access to two high security networks: the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, SIPRNET, which carries US diplomatic and military intelligence; and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, which carries material up to and including "top secret" classification.
Bradass87 said the networks had enabled him to see "incredible things, awful things that belong in the public domain and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC almost criminal political backdealings the non-PR version of world events and crises". He said he had downloaded 260,000 classified or sensitive State Department cables and transmitted them by computer to Wikileaks.
He claimed he copied some of the information on to blank CDs labelled "Lady Gaga" and hummed along to non-existent music while he downloaded secret information.
"I want people to see the truth," he added. "It's open diplomacy it's Climategate with a global scope and breathtaking depth it's beautiful and horrifying It's public data, it belongs in the public domain." At one point in his conversations with Mr Lamo, Bradass87 said: "I can't believe what I'm confessing to you".
Appearing deeply troubled by the conduct of the war he also wrote: "I just couldn't let these things stay inside of the system and inside of my head."
Unknown to Bradass87, Mr Lamo had contacted the US military two days into the online chat, fearing that the leak of information would endanger lives.
On May 25 he met Pentagon officials in a branch of Starbucks and gave them a printout of the online chat. Mr Manning was arrested the next day at US Forward Operating Base Hammer near Baghdad.
Mr Manning is also suspected of being behind the leak of a video, distributed by Mr Assange in April, of a 2007 US helicopter strike in Baghdad which killed a dozen people including two Reuters employees.
Yesterday Mr Lamo said he had no doubt Mr Manning was behind the vast amount of leaked material from Afghanistan, though he strongly suspected the young analyst from Maryland could not have acted alone.
"It was not my impression that he had the technical expertise to carry out some of these actions," he said.
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US identifies Armyman who leaked war documents

London: US officials claim to have identified a 22-year-old arrested Army intelligence analyst as a possible suspect in leaking classified US documents on the war in Afghanistan. Bradley Manning, arrested in May 2009, is believed to be the main suspect who leaked the information to Wikileaks.
He has already claimed he leaked many classified documents, databases and videos to Wikileaks, and described having direct contact with the site's founder, Julian Assange.
The website known for publishing government leaks has exposed Pakistani intelligence agency ISI's links with Afghan insurgents and Taliban. With over 90,000 US military documents leaked on the website, it is a huge embarrassment for the US.
But Pakistan has called the report by Wikileaks 'baseless'.
The reports claim that the barely accessible US mountain base called Camp Keating, which had over 1OO troops, attacked by a group ofTaliban insurgents in 2007 which nearby killed the base commander.
It was clear then the base was vulnerable. According to The New York Times one of the 92,000 documents details a taliban attack at the base.
Two years later the base was closed because it was undermanned and ineffective.
CNN has not independently confirmed the authenticity of the documents but according to the news paper, desperate computer messages were being sent indicating insurgents had made it to the last line of defence. The support did eventually arrive but eight soldiers were killed and almost two dozen wounded.
It is what Wikileaks boss Julian Assange calls the squalor of war and why he says he got the documents.
"Our goal is just reform. Our method is transparency. But we do not put the method before the goal," says Assange.
Even though Assange says thousands of documents were being held back so names can be removed, yet some military experts are upset.
"None of these documents are being filtered for potential harm that can be done to our troops. Revealing vulnerabilities in our troops locations, in our tactics in our procedures. The only word that comes to my mind is outrage," says a military commander.
There is outrage in Pakistan too. Leaks apparently show Pakistan's intelligence services have been supporting Taliban attacks on US troops riling a former intelligence chief in particular.
"There is no truth in what they have said, I have a moral position that I take and that moral position is that this is wrong," says former Pakistan ISI chief Hamid Gul.
The allegations, like much that is emerging from the documents so far, are not new but threaten to destabilise Pakistan's rocky relationship with the US.
Pakistani officials recently said they want a friendly government in Kabul and not one that supports their arch rival India. The implication is theTaliban are their insurance against that happening.
"It is a country in which both India and Pakistan have interests and unless the interests of Pakistan and India can be brought into symmetry, and that symmetry aligned with Afghan interests then this war could go on indefinitely," says Richard Holbrooke, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
British newspaper The Guardian, which like The New York Times has had access to the documents for the past few weeks says it compared the military's accounts of events with other sources concluding in the cases they highlight civilian casualties have been under reported.
"Over the weekend as we have been contacted by media representatives and anticipated this story coming out, at high levels we gave an alert to President Karzai (Afghan President Hamid Karzai), to President Zardari (Paksitani Predisent Asif Ali Zardari), and to the other ministries on both sides so they would understand that, you know, that this -- and anticipate release of -- of these documents. Obviously, from our standpoint we continue to investigate the source of this release and also to assess the impact that it has had on our security," says US State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley.
"I think our reaction to this type of material, a breach of federal law, is always the same, and that is, whenever you have the potential for names and for operations and for programmes to be out there in the public domain that it... besides being against the law, has a potential to be very harmful to those that are in our military, those that are cooperating with our military and those that are working to keep us safe," says White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs.
But the leaks are not going to make any difference immediately because much of what has been leaked has been leaked before, or at the very least been the subject of intense speculation. Very few of the documents have been fully examined and it's in their details like the revealing account of the attack on Camp Keating that the most damage may occur.
READ MORE - US identifies Armyman who leaked war documents

Wikileaks documents show Pakistan and Taliban link

Pakistan was actively collaborating with the Taliban in Afghanistan while accepting US aid, new US military reports showed, a disclosure likely to increase the pressure on Washington's embattled ally.

The revelations by the organisation Wikileaks emerged as Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned of greater Nato casualties in Afghanistan as violence mounts over the summer.
READ MORE - Wikileaks documents show Pakistan and Taliban link

Russian spies leave for Moscow after pleading guilty in US

NEW YORK: In the biggest spy swap since the Cold War, 10 Russian agents who infiltrated suburban America were deported Thursday in exchange for four people convicted of betraying Moscow to the West.

The spies left New York for Moscow hours after pleading guilty to conspiracy in a Manhattan courtroom and being sentenced to time served and ordered out of the country, said a law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak on the record.

The spy swap carries significant consequences for efforts between Washington and Moscow to repair ties chilled by a deepening atmosphere of suspicion.

The US defendants were captured last week in homes across the Northeast. They were accused of embedding themselves in ordinary American life while leading double lives complete with false passports, secret code words, fake names, invisible ink and encrypted radio.

One spy worked for an accounting firm, another was a real-estate agent, another a columnist for a Spanish-language newspaper.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the ``extraordinary'' case took years of work, ``and the agreement we reached today provides a successful resolution for the United States and its interests.'' White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said on PBS' ``NewsHour'' that President Barack Obama was aware of the investigation, the decision to go forward with the arrests and the spy swap with Russia.

Whether the agents provided Russia with valuable secret information is questionable.

``None of the people involved from my understanding provided any information that couldn't be obtained on the Internet,'' defendant Anna Chapman's attorney, Robert Baum, told The Associated Press.

In Russia, the Kremlin said President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree pardoning four convicted foreign spies so that they can be exchanged for the 10 US defendants.

The Kremlin statement carried by the Russian news agencies says that Medvedev has pardoned Russian citizens Alexander Zaporozhsky, Gennady Vasilenko, Sergei Skripal and Igor Sutyagin.

Sutyagin, an arms analyst, was reportedly plucked from a Moscow prison and put on a plane to Vienna. Skripal is a former colonel in the Russian military intelligence, and Zaporozhsky is a former colonel in the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement saying that the exchange being conducted by Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service and the CIA was conducted in the context of ``overall improvement of the US-Russian ties and giving them new dynamics.''

An Obama administration official said the quick and pragmatic arrangement of the spy swap with Russia speaks to the progress that has been made in US-Russian relations.

The senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the deal, said that by shutting down the spy operation, the U.S. sent a warning to other governments that might be interested in undertaking similar spy operations.

The US Department of Justice said in a letter Thursday that some of the four prisoners are in poor health and had served lengthy prison terms. Three of the four were accused by Russia of contacting Western intelligence agencies while they were working for the Russian or Soviet government, the letter stated.

The 10 suburban spies pleaded guilty to conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign country and were ordered deported. An 11th defendant has been a fugitive since fleeing authorities in Cyprus following his release on bail.

One defendant's attorney said a private plane had been expected to take the 10 to Russia. The attorney, John Rodriguez, said his client, Vicky Pelaez, had been given only 24 hours to say yes or no to the ``all or nothing'' deal for deportation.

The defendants — led into court in handcuffs, some in prison smocks and some wearing T-shirts and jeans, provided almost no information about what kind of spying they actually did for Russia. Asked to describe their crimes, each acknowledged having worked for Russia secretly, sometimes under an assumed identity, without registering as a foreign agent.

One, Andrey Bezrukov, smiled and waved to a supporter in the audience and had an animated conversation with another, Elena Vavilova. Vladimir and Lydia Guryev, who lived in the United States as a couple under the aliases Richard and Cynthia Murphy, sat side-by-side but didn't speak.

Pelaez's two sons were among the children of the accused spies in court. A lawyer for her husband said the children would have the option of going to Russia with their parents or staying in the US.

Chapman — whose sultry photos gleaned from social-networking sites made her a tabloid sensation — pulled back her mane of red hair as she glanced around the courtroom. A burly deputy US marshal hovered behind her.

All the defendants stood and raised their right hands in unison to be sworn in before answering a series of questions from the judge, beginning with a request to state their true identities. Their answers were short and scripted, their 10 guilty pleas given one by one in assembly-line precision.

Chapman looked baffled when the judge asked if her secret laptop exchanges with a Russian official ``were in furtherance of the conspiracy.'' She finally looked at her lawyer, shrugged and replied, ``Yes.'' Asked by the judge if she realized at the time that her actions were criminal, she said, ``Yes I did, your honor.''

Assistant US Attorney Michael Farbiarz said Russian officials had visited with the defendants numerous times in prison, and he sought assurances that none of the pleas resulted from inducements that might have been offered by Russian authorities.

Rodriguez, the attorney, said in court that the Russian government had promised Pelaez $2,000 a month for life, housing and documents to allow her children to visit Russia and have all their expenses paid. She decided to go home to her native Peru instead.

Peru's foreign minister, Jose Antonio Garcia, said that Pelaez had committed no crime in her homeland and would be ``received like any other Peruvian citizen.''

Vladimir Guryev acknowledged that from the mid-1990s to the present day, he lived in the US under an assumed name and took directions from the Russian Federation.

Asked whether he knew his actions were a crime, he said: ``I knew they were illegal, yes, your honor.'' Sutyagin, a Russian arms control analyst serving a 14-year sentence for spying for the U.S., was reportedly taken from a Moscow prison and flown to Vienna earlier Thursday.

Sutyagin had told his relatives he was going to be among spies in Russia who would be freed in exchange for 11 people charged in the United States with being Russian agents. They said he was going to be sent to Vienna, then London.

In Moscow, his lawyer, Anna Stavitskaya, said a journalist called Sutyagin's family to inform them that he was seen walking off a plane in Vienna on Thursday. However, she said she could not confirm that claim with Russian authorities.

In New York, US Attorney Preet Bharara said that the investigation was aimed at uncovering and deterring espionage and was ``not undertaken for the purpose of having a bargaining chip.''

He predicted the Russian government ``is unlikely to engage in this methodology in the future and that's a good thing. ... The case sends a message to every other agency that if you come to America and spy on Americans in America you will be exposed.''

Despite the benefits given to at least one of the Russian agents freed by the United States, they are unlikely to be greeted as heroes in Russia, as the Kremlin will likely try to quickly turn the page over the embarrassing incident and avoid further damage in relations with Washington.

Independent newspapers and liberal commentators in Russia have chafed at the obvious lack of results of the spy ring work and ridiculed the low level of their training.

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Pete Yost, Calvin Woodward and Matt Lee in Washington; David B. Caruso in New York; Denise Lavoie in Boston; David Nowak, Misha Japaridze, Vladimir Isachenkov, Jim Heintz and Khristina Narizhnaya in Moscow; Matt Barakat in Alexandria, Virginia; Jim Fitzgerald in White Plains, New York; Carla Salazar in Lima, Peru, and David Stringer in London.
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Norway Al Qaeda Arrests: 3 Suspected In Terrorist Bomb Plot

Al Qaida Zawahiri
This video frame grab image provided by IntelCenter, a private terrorism analysis company, and taken from a video released Friday Nov. 28, 2008 by the media arm of al-Qaida, As-Sahab, shows Ayman al-Zawahiri speaking in a video entitled "al-Azhar" or "The Lion's Den". Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader appeared in a new video posted Friday calling on Americans to embrace Islam to overcome the financial meltdown, which he said was a consequence of the Sept. 11 attacks and militant strikes in Iraq and Afghan

OSLO — Three suspected al-Qaida members were arrested Thursday morning in what Norwegian and U.S. officials said was a terrorist plot linked to similar plans in New York and England.
The three men, whose names were not released, had been under surveillance for more than a year. Officials believe they were planning attacks with portable but powerful bombs like the ones at the heart of last year's thwarted suicide attack in the New York City subway.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has called that one of the most serious terrorist plots since 9/11. On Wednesday, prosecutors revealed the existence of a related plot in Manchester, England. Officials believe the Norway plan was organized by Salah al-Somali, al-Qaida's former chief of external operations, the man in charge of plotting attacks worldwide.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case. The Norwegian Police Security Service said only that the three were arrested on suspicion of "preparing terror activities."
Al-Somali, who was killed in a CIA drone airstrike last year, has been identified in U.S. court documents as one of the masterminds of the New York subway plot. Two men have pleaded guilty in that case, admitting they planned to detonate explosives during rush hour. A third man awaits trial.
A news conference was planned for later Thursday.
Officials said it was not clear the men had selected a target for the attacks but they were attempting to make peroxide bombs, the powerful homemade explosives that prosecutors say were attempted in both New York and England.
U.S. and Norwegian counterterrorism officials worked closely together to unravel the Norwegian plot, officials said. Janne Kristiansen, the head of the Police Security Service, traveled to the U.S. this spring to discuss some of the closely held intelligence that been gathered in the case.
In Washington, Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd had no comment.

Officials did not say why Norway was a target, but al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri has called for attacks on Norway, among other countries.
Magnus Norell, a terrorism expert at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, said Norway's 500 troops in Afghanistan could be a factor, as could the 2006 controversy sparked by a Danish newspaper's publication of 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
Norell said the controversy has extended to neighboring Norway and Sweden after newspapers there republished the cartoons and later published similar cartoons. Images of Muhammad, even favorable ones, are considered blasphemous by many Muslims.
READ MORE - Norway Al Qaeda Arrests: 3 Suspected In Terrorist Bomb Plot

Russian government offers 'spy swap' deal to US

Russia wants to swap a scientist jailed on charges of spying for Britain for one of the suspected Russian agents detained in the United States last month, a lawyer for the scientist said.
Anna Chapman and Igor Sutyagin: Russia wants spy swap deal with US
Anna Chapman and Igor Sutyagin Photo: AP
Igor Sutyagin, a nuclear weapons expert, was convicted by a Russian court to 15 years in jail in 2004 on charges of passing classified military information to a British firm prosecutors said acted as a front for the US Central Intelligence Agency.
"They want to exchange Sutyagin for those accused of spying in the United States," Anna Stavitskaya, a lawyer acting for Sutyagin, said by telephone. "They want the swap to take place tomorrow [Thursday]."
She said she did not know for whom he would be exchanged. Stavitskaya said Sutyagin would be sent initially to Britain.
Ten alleged secret agents of the Russian government were arrested by the FBI last week on suspicion of living in "deep-cover" in the United States and engaging in Cold War-style espionage.
The FBI accused the SVR, the successor organisation to the Soviet Union's KGB, of running a network of "illegals", described in court documents as Russians who received training in languages, codes and ciphers, invisible writing and counter-surveillance before living in the United States under false identities.
Each of the 10 was charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison on conviction.
READ MORE - Russian government offers 'spy swap' deal to US

Iran Air passenger jets banned from Europe's Airports over safety fears

Iran Air's jets have been banned from flying to Europe because of safety concerns, it was revealed today.
The move is not related to U.N. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, EU officials emphasised.
The 27-nation bloc also relaxed restrictions on two airlines from Indonesia and put a Suriname airline on its blacklist of carriers the EU believes do not meet international safety standards.
The list of 278 airlines - mostly small operations from Africa and Asia - was established in 2006 and is updated regularly.
Iran Air
A Boeing 747 of Iran's national airline Iran Air at Mehrabad International airport in Tehran
Iran Air's Boeing 727s and 747s, along with its Airbus 320s, have been placed on the EU blacklist following a safety audit, Transport Commission spokeswoman Helen Kearns said.
But Kearns denied that the move, which affects two-thirds of Iran Air's fleet, had anything to do with international sanctions.
'We deal purely with safety requirements,' she said. 'Our controls focus entirely on safety, nothing else.'
Iran Air has had trouble properly maintaining its aging Boeing 747 and 727 jets purchased in the 1970s because of a 30-year-old U.S. ban on spare parts.
The airline - together with a cargo and a low-cost subsidiary - has more than 60 planes in its inventory.
Plans call for many of its older airliners still in service to be replaced by Russian-built Tu-204 medium-range jets starting in 2011.
Iran Air flies to about 60 destinations, mainly in Asia and Europe. Its extensive domestic network covers nearly two dozen airports.
Kearns said two more Indonesian carriers, Metro Batavia and Indonesia Air Asia, have been removed from the latest list of banned airlines, bringing to six the number of Indonesian airlines allowed to operate in Europe.
Three years ago, after a spate of deadly crashes, all Indonesian airlines were excluded from European airspace.
Kearns said Suriname's Blue Wings Airlines has also been placed on the revised blacklist. Although the airline does not fly to Europe, it has routes to the Dutch Antilles and French Guiana.
Critics of the list say most of the notorious African fly-by-night cargo outfits still on the EU list have long since been shut down.
Many of the others involve air taxi services or small, specialised charter firms that work for mining, oil and gas and other natural resources companies, usually to transport employees to remote work sites.
The crash last month in Cameroon of a chartered plane carrying the entire board of an Australian mining company highlighted the lack of uniform safety standards among the multitude of small aviation operators serving the industry.
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Russian 'spy' says she is 'embarrassed' by press coverage

The Russian woman that US prosecutors claim is at the centre of an international spy ring is “embarrassed” by the media coverage generated by her arrest, her lawyer said.
 
Alex Chapman with his former wife alleged Russian spy Anna Chapman nee Kushchenko
Anna Chapman, looking anything but a spy, with her husband Alex relaxing in the hotel pool during their honeymoon in Zimbabwe Photo: DAILY TELEGRAPH
Anna Chapman, 28, has been pictured across the world since her arrest, along with 10 others, for allegedly spying on the US.
Her British ex-husband Alex Chapman, 30, spoke to The Daily Telegraph last week to describe their relationship and his words were reproduced around the world.
Photographs showed her on honeymoon in Egypt and Zimbabwe, enjoying Manhattan’s nightlife, posing in front of the Statue of Liberty and mixing with businessmen.
Further coverage yesterday included intimate photographs published in tabloid newspapers of her semi-clothed.
Mrs Chapman’s lawyer, Robert Baum, said he had shown some press cuttings to Mrs Chapman, who told her ex-husband that her father was highly-ranked in the KGB.
Mr Baum said: “She was embarrassed by some of the photos that were obviously taken from her Facebook pages.
“The truth is she is probably no different than your typical single 28-year-old woman in New York City.
“She runs a successful business, goes out at night. She dates men, enjoys a social life.”
Mr Baum said the red-headed Russian was “very frightened” and was being kept in solitary confinement with only one hour of exercise a day.
He said she feared being deported back to Russia and wants to continue living in the US.
Mr Baum said Miss Chapman had sought the advice of her father Vasily Kushchenko, who he described as a low-level embassy employee, when an undercover FBI agent gave her a fake passport to deliver to another spy.
“She spoke to her father, and her father said 'You’ve got this passport. It’s forged. Go turn it into the police' and that’s exactly what she did.”
Mr Chapman, who has hoping to become a clinical psychologist, said his ex-wife changed dramatically during their time together but they had remained in contact and last spoke just a few days ago.
He said: “When I first brought her to my mum, she said 'Be careful, she might have an ulterior motive' but I know in my heart that it was real.”
He said he spoke to her in her cell in the US using her Russian mobile number last Friday and she told him: “So much has happened. I am not surprised about everything that is happening in England. It is happening everywhere. Don’t worry.”
The 11 people accused are charged with conspiracy to act as unlawful agents of a foreign government, and eight also face a charge of conspiracy to launder money.
READ MORE - Russian 'spy' says she is 'embarrassed' by press coverage

Al-Qaida to launch English propaganda newspaper

NEW YORK: Al-Qaida is preparing to launch its first online propaganda newspaper in English, a move that could help the terror group recruit inside the US and Europe.

The group has begun promoting the paper, called Inspire, with animated online graphics promising "special gift to the Islamic nation."

Counterterrorism officials and terror analysts say it will be run by al-Qaida's branch in Yemen, which has been linked to the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt of a US-bound airliner.

The launch suggests that, as al-Qaida's core has been weakened by CIA drone airstrikes, the group hopes to broaden its reach inside the US, where officials have seen a spate of homegrown terrorists.

The new publication "is clearly intended for the aspiring jihadist in the US or UK who may be the next Fort Hood murderer or Times Square bomber," Bruce Riedel, a Brookings Institution scholar and former CIA officer, said.

At the heart of that effort is Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical US-born cleric now living in Yemen. Authorities say his online sermons, in English, have inspired several recent terrorist plots in the United States. Al-Qaida's advertisement says al-Awlaki will contribute to the first issue.

Until now, al-Qaida has relied on Arabic websites to carry its message. Now it appears to be capitalizing on its recent success recruiting inside the US.

Using propaganda on the Internet, the terrorist group has been able to attract Americans such as Bryant Neal Vinas and Najibullah Zazi, two admitted al-Qaida terrorists. Both were radicalized in New York and traveled to Pakistan to join the fight against the US.
READ MORE - Al-Qaida to launch English propaganda newspaper
 
 
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