ENIGMA 2000 Newsletter - Issue 1

November 2000
Articles, newsreports and Items of interest : e2k_news@hotmail.com

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News items

Mossad: A Sentence and Strike action.

In February 1998 an Israeli agent, now known only as Yitzhak Ben-Tal, was arrested in Switzerland by two Swiss Policeman after being caught attempting to place a wire tap on the telephone line of a suspected Hezbollah operative. Abdullah el-Zein a Swiss citizen of Lebanese descent denied any connection with the Hezbollah and claimed to run an Islamic Centre. The centre, Ahl Al-Beit Islamic Centre has links with Lebanon and Iran. El-Zein was also described as a 'car salesman'.

Ben -Tal was a member of a team of five Mossad agents tasked to perform the operation in Kenitz, a town near Berne, the others quickly making their escape due to the inability of the Swiss Policemen to realise that they were dealing with a case of espionage. Ben-Tal was caught carrying a bag, of diplomatic origin, containing bugging equipment. The equipment was listed as a cell phone connected to 24 batteries, which when plugged into Abdullah el-Zein's telephone line, would have called a monitoring centre every time el-Zein picked his handset up.

In court the Swiss Police officers recounted how they caught Ben-Tal, and others, installing listening devices in the home of the Lebanese car dealer.

Ben-Tal, at the time of his arrest admitted his part in the surveillance operation and was remanded. This process took place because the technical equipment was contained in a Diplomatic Bag known to have entered Switzerland via Israeli diplomatic mail. Ben-Tal was later released on £2 million bail, paid by Israel in return for a promise that the agent, Ben-Tal, would return to Israel to face trial.

The hearing, two years later, was held in front of 5 judges and Ben-Tal was found guilty of acts committed illegally for a foreign state, of political espionage and of repeated use of false identity documents. The trial lasted a week and at the conclusion the charge of illegal phone tapping was dropped.

The presiding judge, Hans Wiprachtiger stated that "The crimes were considerable. Switzerland's sovereignty was violated in a callous way."Ben-Tal was barred from entering Swiss territory for five years, fined 100,000 Swiss Francs and received a suspended sentence of twelve months. The prosecution had originally asked for a 5,000 Franc fine and a jail term of 15 months.

Ehud Barak, Israel's prime minister expressed satisfaction at the sentence attracted by Ben-Tal. However the decision to allow Ben-Tal to stand trial was made by the head of Mossad, Ephraim Halevy. This decision led to anger within Mossad and the agents apparently considered strike action , the greatest anger said to be within the specialist units charged with data hacking, electronic eavesdropping and assassination.

This obvious humiliation has led to Halevy curbing the agency's activities in Europe of spying on Arab Embassies and other counter-terrorism activities. Even actions in the Arab world were known to have ceased.

It is reported that Ehud Barak offered Halevy's post to Ami Ayalon, but as yet there has been no appointment. Ami Ayalon is the head of Shin Beth, the Israeli internal security service.

Cypriot Journalists arrested for spying.

Turkish Cypriot Police arrested four staff members of the left wing Avrupa Newspaper for espionage and seeking to overthrow the government. The Publisher and three staff members were arrested after the newspapers offices, in Nicosia, were searched.

Security Officials were stated as saying "This spy ring used the guise of a daily newspaper to publish vicious and immoral statements with the goal of undermining the state and traffic in military secrets."

The owner and editor-in-chief, Sener Levent was later arrested.

Apparently the paper had called for the police to be placed under the control of the civilian authorities.

KGB Spy codenamed 'Sonya' dies.

The spy who helped Klaus Fuchs smuggle the British atomic bomb research secrets into the Soviet Union in the Forties has died in her native Berlin.

Ruth Werner was born on 15th May 1907 as Ursula Ruth Kuczynski the daughter of German-Jewish parents. She was recruited in Shanghai during 1930 by the Russo-German agent Richard Sorge after witnessing atrocious scenes whilst with her first husband, Rolf Hamburger who was serving with the British Municipal Council. They were both Communists and it is stated that her husband was also a Soviet agent. Richard Sorge, later hanged as a spy by the Japanese, was responsible for the codename 'Sonya'.

She engaged in spying against Nazi Germany but in 1941 met an Englishman in Switzerland, Len Beurton, whom she married to obtain a British passport under the watchful eye of her Soviet masters. The marriage lasted for 50 years! During that year they moved to Oxford and 'Sonya' made radio transmissions from their home to Moscow. Meeting Fuchs, already willing to send technical detail to the Soviets, 'Sonya' was the perfect conduit. Apart from the atomic espionage 'Sonya' also used one of her brothers to cultivate senior civil servants eventually allowing her to gather and send a wide range of political and military intelligence to Moscow.

In 1947 she was interrogated by MI5 and Special Branch, those investigations never being followed up. However with the arrest of Fuchs 'Sonya' and her husband, Beurton, quickly travelled to East Berlin.

'Sonya' published an autobiography in 1991'Sonya's Report' and pursued a successful career as a novelist. She was 93.

Spy's Tourist Agency.

Cubalinda.com sells package tours that encompass what every modern traveller would expect; Hotels on the beach, Car-hire facilities, Underwater Swimming, Fishing Trips and so on.

Whilst this company aims its market at Europeans it also targets the US via its website and a parent company in the Bahamas.

The company is owned by the 1970's CIA whistleblower, Philip Agee who wrote a book about his experiences destabilising foreign governments and causing a furore in Latin American. His publishing of named CIA agents in his book "Inside the Company: CIA Diary" over 22 pages did enough damage to have him declared as a threat to US National Security.

Agee has the last laugh though. With the US embargo banning US Citizens from spending money in Cuba, and the threat of penalties of up to 10 years in gaol, or massive five figure dollar fines for those who do, one would perhaps think that he has backed a loser. With his internet company and Bahamas parent company no actual money technically enters Cuba. However, some US tourists may take a leaf from Agee's book and live a little dangerously.

Agee is living in the Cuban district of Vedado in a fourth floor unit in a block of flats needing repair.

Served by a likewise badly serviced lift Cubalinda's offices are across the hallway from his front door.

British Destroyer at risk in Gibraltar.

During the 1982 Falklands conflict four members of the Argentine Special Forces, marine services force flew to Madrid on 8th May 1982. It was intended to sink a destroyer and support vessel at anchor as a revenge for the sinking of the Belgrano, it has been disclosed. The special forces men were equipped with limpet mines smuggled to them by the Argentine Embassy in Madrid. The mines were of Italian manufacture, semispheres, and around 60cm in diameter, and each filled with 25 kg of the explosive Trotyl. The group rented a car and evaded British Military defences to carry out reconnaissance of the targets. Communications concerning this operation by the Argentinians were intercepted by the French Intelligence Service and passed to British intelligence.

The operatives were arrested in Cadiz on 31st May 1982, the ships having already departed from Gibraltar. One of the agents, Maximo Nicoletti, 50, stated that the group had penetrated British security twice prior to their arrest.

Nicoletti described how one morning he awoke to find that his bedroom was full of Spanish Police officials and he assumed that the groups communications were intercepted by the Spanish. His companion, nicknamed 'the martian' and himself were then arrested. The two other operatives, Hector and Latorre were arrested as they attempted to renew the rental on their vehicle.

Whilst in custody they were relieved of their passports but never interrogated. They were flown to Madrid within hours and then put on a plane to Argentina.

US Fighter planes abort mission over Iraq due to Russian Technology.

US aircraft that regularly launch missiles at Iraq whilst on patrol were caused to veer from their mission and return to base thanks to a Russian device being used by the Iraqi military.

These aircraft rely on Global Positioning Satellite signals, GPS, to find their way about and this one link has been determined by a Russian University, as being capable of being technically attacked by jamming.

The scientist, Valentin Kashinoy, who developed the devices claims that the units send jamming signals on 1.578GHz and that he took the specifications for the GPS transmissions and the US Military 'Navstar' satellites from a magazine 'Radiotekhnika'. There are several manufacturing companies that possess the ability to make these units which are compact enough to fit into a truck.

The devices weigh 3 kilograms and it is believed that Iraq have two such units in their possession.

Use of these 3kg devices up to a range of 200 kilometres would jam Navstar signals adequately to interfere with the Tomahawk Cruise Missile or Joint Direct Attack Munition Missile.

The cost of each of these units, to effectively jam the multi million dollar Navstar project, is said to be US$18,000 each.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

A radical new Act has been passed through Parliament and received Royal ascent giving British Security agencies and the Police powers to intercept communications . This covers all telephone calls, mobile or landline. Emails and other internet data transfers and surveillance.

In addition to those communications the act has the power to demand passwords and keys required to decode any data that had been encrypted. The obvious excuse of 'forgetting' the relevant word, phrase or whatever is not acceptable and penalties are stated within the act to deal with those who have 'forgot'.

The Act also gives the government powers to demand that Internet providers connect relevant hardware and use software to allow Britain's internal security service, MI5, to off load what data it may need to. This would still be done under a warrant.

Britain is the only member of G-7 industrial nations with specific legal powers to demand that companies provide the security services with the keys needed to decrypt data that has been protected by encryption.

The cost of the provision of these 'black boxes' has been estimated between £20M and £640M and the government have been instructed by Parliament to pay a fair proportion of the cost.

Holiday Birdwatcher Arrested for Spying in Cyprus

A British Birdwatcher was arrested and accused by the police of spying when he photographed locals trapping an endangered migrating birds by the thousands. The Birdwatcher works for an environmental body. The birds are sold as a local delicacy.

Australian Intelligence Officer attempted to sell Official Secrets.

Simon Lappas, 25, an intelligence officer in Canberra's Defence Intelligence Organisation, appeared in Court in Australia accused of attempting to sell Official Secrets to a foreign power.

Also appearing with him was a Sydney Business woman Sherryl Ellen Dowling, also 25.

They were both charged with the theft of secret documents said to contain details of briefings of Britains Secret Intelligence Service.

The foreign power was not named but Lappas's diary contained the name of a Russian contact.

The arrest of the two followed after the removal of the secret documents from the boot of Simon Lappas's car.

Americans have automated email intercept system.

An electronic system called 'Carnivore' is run by the FBI to actively trawl through millions of emails a second.

It works by utilising specialist software and is a personal computer installed at the Internet Service Provider, ISP, of the target.

The device scans all emails passing through the ISP to check that they are intended for the target or are being sent by the target. The Targets emails are then copied, full-text, to a removable hard disc drive that an FBI agent would collect daily.

The system is called 'Carnivore' by the FBI because it rapidly finds the 'meat'.

Use of this system has provoked a large number of protests from the American Civil Liberties Union.

A congressman, Bob Barr, described the system as "frightening."

Foreign Office get windfall for Communications

The FO has received an unexpected and most generous increase in its capitation.

This funding will be used to modernise communications systems in no uncertain way.

The £245M will be used replacing the transmitters for the BBC World Service and for a change in the FO's own communications system with the creation of a private network to service 135 posts world wide. This system is expected to cost in the region of £318M and will take ten years to be completed. Some funding will also be made available for coordinating peacekeeping forces in the worlds less peaceful areas between the FO and the Ministry of Defence.

MoD's research facility to be sold.

Most of Britain's Ministry of Defence research establishments are to be sold. Criticism is rife from MPs and unions concerning the sale.

The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, DERA, is to be have at least three quarters moved to the private sector by the end of 2000. The remainder would remain under MoD auspices.

The sale is expected to top £250M whilst DERA has an annual turnover of over £1Bn. The 9000 staff affected by this sale will move to the private company although 3000 key scientists and staff will remain in the MoD owned agency.

Bowman Radio Project Collapses.

The £340M project collapsed as a disastrous failure amid the announcement that the MoD would start a new competition to find a supplier capable of meeting the requirement.

The previous preferred supplier for the contract to supply more than 56,000 battlefield radios was going to miss the in-service date breaking the £2.2Bn budget.

The MoD announced that the new competition would cover old ground seen in the previous bidding.

Bowman had cost 3 times as much as the original budget since the project launch in the 1980's. Originally launched to replace Clansman, the 1970s technology based system, the project ran 7 years late leaving the armed forces to rely on old technology.

Acutely aware of the limitations of the Clansman system the government are keen to revitalise the intended Bowman procurement as the costs inevitably spiral.

A third of the Clansmen sets in use with the Paras in Kosovo did not work and those that did offered no communications security for the operators meaning that Serbs, Kosovan Liberation Army, journalists and anyone else armed with a suitable receiver could monitor the transmissions. The Paras were apparently upset that the opposition was using modern communications sets available in Dixons or Tandy whilst they used an outdated and hopeless system.

Russian junior Diplomat Sentenced for Spying.

Platon Obukhov aged 31 was sentenced to 11 years gaol and the confiscation of all his possessions for spying for Britain in the mid-1990's.

Obukhov, a son of a former deputy foreign minister and arms-control negotiator, was arrested by the FSB in April 1996. Working as a second secretary in the Foreign Ministry's North America Department his arrest led to the biggest spying scandal between London and Moscow since the end of the Cold War.

As a result Moscow expelled four British Diplomats whilst London retaliated by expelling four Russians.

The actual case lasted for more than four years whilst Obukhov's family and lawyers tried to prove insanity. Obkhov had stated that he had been recruited by MI6 18 months previous to his arrest whilst he was working as a diplomat in Norway, actively spying upon his return to Moscow six months after his recruitment.

He accused the British Secret Service MI6 of blackmailing him into spying by gathering 'compromising material' on him.

An appeal has been lodged with the Russian Supreme Court.

MoD Laptop Theft.

A laptop computer containing secrets stolen from a train has been recovered. The thief, David Stone aged 28 of Paddington, West London sold the unit to enable him to buy drugs.

Stone was remanded in custody by magistrates at Horseferry Road Magistrates courts for sentencing.

Stolen ENIGMA machine recovered.

An encoding machine used by the German war machine originally stolen from the museum situated at Bletchley Park has been found in the mail room of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Apparently three rotors were missing. The unit was in a box, the package being addressed to Broadcaster and presenter of University Challenge Jeremy Paxman.

A ransom of some £25,000 [around US$ 38,000] had previously been demanded to secure the safe return of the machine, one of only two on display world wide, apparently from a collector who had purchased the wrong item. The original letters, written in a peculiar manner, threatened destruction of the device, worth at least £100,000 [US$161,000] on non-payment of the ransom.

The postmark on the package indicated the postal area of Birmingham.


Morse stations | New station profile : M83 | Voice stations | Oddities
MV Gaul H243 | Book review : Blind Man's Bluff
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