ENIGMA 2000 Newsletter - Issue 29

July 2005
Articles, newsreports and Items of interest :enigma2000-owner@yahoogroups.com

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ENIGMA 2000 article - Iraqi Embassy 21 Queensgate, London SW7 - (2/2)

by PLondon

Part two takes a quick look at the Special Security Organisation, Project 858, concluding with present day events around the Embassy at Queen’s Gate SW7.

Special Security Organisation, SSO [Amn Al Khass]

The structure of the SSO is as follows:

Office of the Director General

Located in the Hai Al Tashriya borough of Baghdad.

Director General Qusay Saddam Hussein.

Security Office of SSO.

Located next to the office of the Director General.

The ID department is located here and produces all ID’s for the SSO, its prison and security departments.

Director of Security Office is Ahmed Wahab Nasser al Douri, whilst the officer in charge of the prison is Hassan Khalid Al Tikriti.

Protection Office

This office, which provides bodyguards for senior SSO personnel, is run by Habib Nahi Semiyan Al Hadithi and located at the Agricultural Circle near the Council of Ministers Building.

Office of Presidential Facilities

Provides protection and security to the Presidential Offices, Council of Ministers and National Council, as well as to the Regional and National Command of the Ba’ath Party.

The Director is Nasser Sa’ad Waheeb Al Nasiri.

Security Detail

Tasks the security platoons; in particular:

HQ Platoon

Baghdad Platoon

Quick Reaction Platoon

Traffic Platoon

The office being housed near Baghdad Clock.

Audit Office

Located near to the Director General’s Office

Director is Faris Hameed Al Tikriti

Communications Office

Located next to the Al Hayat Building.

Duties not known.

Public Opinion Office

In offices near to the Agricultural Circle

Collects and disseminates rumours.

Director is Samir Abdel Aziz Al Ajili

Administration Office

Inside the Al Hayat Building

Director is Mahmoud Shaban Abbas Al Tikriti

Security Institute

Provides training in buildings located in the Officer’s District.

SSO Gun Club

Housed near Al Masba

The armoury of the SSO and Hussein’s private swimming pool are within.

Director Haji Said Hamid Al Douri.

Al Hadi Project (Project 858)

The Al Hadi Project is responsible for the collection, processing, exploitation and dissemination of Signals, Communications and Electronic Intelligence.

This project is not represented on the National Security Council but reports directly to the Office of the Presidential Palace irrespective of this non-representation.

The Headquarters are in Al Rashedia which is located around 20km north of Baghdad.

A three-shift system operates twenty four hours a day.

The estimated 800 staff are spread between Al Rashedia and five other ground collection stations located elsewhere around Iraq. One such station is believed to be at Habbaniya.

These facilities are believed to be at full operational capability despite damage received during the Gulf war actions.

Sophisticated equipment is used in conjunction with computer systems acquired from Japan in the early eighties. The systems are used to intercept both domestic and international communications traffic.

It is known that a priority task is the monitoring of Military communications of other countries and ‘Operation Provide Comfort’ communications from Incirlik Air base, Turkey and the co-ordination centre in Zakho, North Iraq have been a particular target.

The Iraqi National Congress, INC, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, PUK, and the Kurdish Democratic Party, KDP, communications are also high on the list for interception.

On 28th November 11997 the Jerusalem Post carried an article entitled ‘Iraqi Opposition: Saddam Bugging Inspectors’.

The article went into some detail concerning Project 858 and its part in the collection of signals from the UN Special Commission [UNSCOM] concerning arms inspections.

The article stated ‘...told of a big operation north of Baghdad known as the ‘el Hadi project’. Its codename is 858, he said and its purpose is to monitor all incoming and outgoing UNSCOM communications locally and internationally.’

A Daily Telegraph article ‘Iraqis spied on UN arms inspectors, US claims’ of 28th November 1997 had carried one paragraph stating that ‘Iraq has a 1000 man electronic eavesdropping agency called Project 858, with six listening posts around the country, monitoring satellite and other communications. It may be able to decipher scrambled calls and computer messages used by the UN inspectors’.

In late 1995 Iraq banned the international direct-dial facilities that were then used in Iraq and insisted that all calls be routed through a special operator assisted exchange in Al Rashedia. Calls are recorded and then evaluated by a committee formed by personnel from the IIS and SSO.

Direct Link Satellite traffic is monitored by the Al Hadi project.

It is believed that Saddam Hussein valued the product from Project 858 and providedwhatever aid was called for.

Irrespective of the political and military situation within Iraq, the use of electronic countermeasures, good radio procedures and the excessive use of fibre optic cables denied allied forces valuable SIGINT for a considerable time during the Gulf conflict. It was not until the deployment of British Special Forces into Iraq, behind enemy lines, raising the main and highly secure fibre optic link to the surface, using pneumatic drills, and severing it, that extensive use of radio traffic by the Iraqi forces began. These actions were carried out only sixty miles from Baghdad.

Iraq has shown the world the value of communications on the matters of security, interception and exploitation.

Upto and including 2005

Prior to the Iraqi elections things began to happen in the Embassy building. One afternoon it was invaded by a number of of persons who swathed through the building in search of the unknown. What they found, if anything was also unknown. Those arrested by Police were allowed to go without charge.

The double doors to the building were never repaired and allowed to effectively rot. They were secured with padlock and hasp whilst the rear entrance in Queens Mews remain unopened. Moving towards the ‘election’ the building was entered and a photocopier removed by a couple of blokes with a vehicle, but that was it.

Following the Iraqi election lights began to come on in the building again although the very dirty and dishevelled curtains remained as such.

A number of persons entered the buildings and shortly it was clear that work was in progress. First a skip arrived outside and this was filled to capacity with plastic bags full of paperwork, then another skip arrived for the same and that remained outside.

A surreptitious inspection of the skip one morning revealed the extent as to what was being removed from the site.

Amusingly a whole wad of the British Medical Journals dated between 1978 and 1987 were seen along with other journals and magazines, New Scientist and National Geographic were such as was a glossy magazine of alcohol for sale into the diplomatic market [Muslims?].

At least six B&W monitors appeared, no doubt once connected to the cameras that guard the entrances or watch respective Embassy staff.

The lid in the road was intended to stop unwanted vehicles parking there – it was marginally successful although one particular female driver tried to park her 4x4 there.

The address on the lid reads:

Note the inverted box* seen at LH top corner of lid and at foot of steps.


On another day a number of boxes appeared, these were unopened and a walk by revealed they carried a glassware symbol, more boxes, again unopened and previously stored in the basement, contained unused paperwork. Like the glassware these ended up in the skip.

Whilst on one walk by a box brimming over with packing tape bearing the logo ‘Iraqi Airways’ was seen along with way bills and baggage tickets – literally hundreds of them and no doubt in connection with the ‘Diplomatic Pouch.’

Whilst a walk by in a lunch time the box* mentioned above was seen; it bore the markings ‘Wavetek’. Wavetek produce a particularly nice range of test equipment and looking inside the box produced sight of two removable panels of complex construction and a heavily accented “can I help you?” in broken English, to which the reply , “Thanks, No, just browsing” was offered along with a strategic withdrawal. The challenger was a young bloke about 18-20 wearing overalls. He had just carried a black bag up from the basement.

After visiting the local sandwich shop a return visit was in hand, during which the above image was taken. Careful looking into the doorway will reveal a man in the doorway.

That person challenged me and called another man, dressed in a suit whose English language was not bad. He asked what I was doing – having used a camera I stated I was photographing the building for posterity. He asked why when it was now in such a bad state? The obvious reply was that I was interested in what was going on in the building. Then he asks [and this shocked me] “Are you an agent?”

I was flabbergasted but fell back on my rudimentary knowledge of Arabic, “La! Marafi Mukh!” [No I have a small brain]! He thought that very funny and then continued by asking where I had learnt Arabic phrase. When I told him the Yemen he was more open with me. He told me that the building was going to remain as the Iraqi Embassy but was going to be thoroughly refurbished inside because it was ruined. That work, he reckoned, was going to take in excess of a year.

I asked about the antenna and he said it was rotting rubbish [I think he meant rusty] and that it had never worked. [That was nonsense because in the Gulf War RF caused widespread interference and probably supplied a decent enough signal to be sampled locally by anyone who had a need to do so]. However, maybe that in his time in the building the antenna or the apparatus that fed it may have become unserviceable. I tried to get the bloke to show me about but he said it was a building site and he was sorry he could not.

At the conclusion of our conversation we shook hands and I walked away knowing more than what I arrived with!

Entrance cose

The Iraqi official building now resides at 169 Knightsbridge SW7 as this most official notice, on green paper on the doors to the former embassy declares. A lunchtime walk by allowed some photographic imagery:

The new building seems little more than a few offices opposite the barracks in Knightsbridge. However they are the official Embassy, if not temporary. Daily persons can be seen waiting outside.

The sign by the door proclaims:

The sign above the door reads:
169 Knightsbridge
consular section Embassy of The Republic of Iraq
Consular Section

On the brown door, which is the entrance to the Embassy some notices can be seen:

notice to applicants

Returning to Newsletter 27 March 2005 page 24. Looking at the message passed in Arabic on E25 and the numeral system used we now see the numbers written down in Arabic true style. Remembering the Arab reads R to L then the date on the left notice is

2005/3/21 but which actually reads 21/3/2004.

That in centre has a handy ‘translator’ on the right and again reads 3/28 and3/25 [25/3 and 28/3]. Note the position of the comma like character that presumably means &.

One last visit to the old embassy building at Queensgate shows the old regime’s flag on the ground with a plethora of rubbish dumped on top of it.

Files rot at the back of the room and a bottle of Patterson ‘Acutol’ developer can just be seen on the right of image.

Apologies for poor quality pic – taken under difficult conditions
mess < Rotting Files at rear of room
<< Acutol Bottle!
[On lower shelf against side of pic]
< Flag on floor.[LH corner of pic]

With the recent works at the Queen’s Gate building PLondon missed this BBC CEEFAX newspiece of Wednesday 08 June 2005 as he was in New Zealand at the time. Luckily AnonNI emailed the piece to him for his most urgent interest. In an industrial premises ‘somewhere in Rotorua’ PLondon downloaded the piece via ‘Jetstream’, NZ’s own ADSL.

‘Iraqi embassy weapons cache found

A cache of weapons was found at the Iraqi Embassy in London after the Baghdad regime change, it has emerged.

The new Iraqi ambassador made the discovery, along with other evidence of espionage activities, in a safe inside the building, BBC News has learned.

The embassy was abandoned by its staff in 2003 as war loomed.

A safe in the building was recently opened revealing sub-machine guns, handguns and listening devices. Police say investigations are continuing.’

[BBC CEEFAX 08/06/05 – AnonNI]

Interestingly, the Embassy was entered [as stated in the above article] following an invasion by Kurdish opponents of Saddam Hussein’s government around the time of the first Gulf War in January 1991. The Security Service along with officers of Special Branch were involved in a big ‘anti-terrorist’ alert when it was thought that Chemical or Biological Weapons [CBW] existed in the embassy. Following the expulsion of eight Iraqi diplomats and sixty seven others it is believed that MI5 officers remained in the basement. [p167 ‘UK Eyes Only’ by Mark Urban]. Of those expelled thirty five were detained in an Army Camp on Salisbury Plain and a further thirty three ensconced in York Prison. It was thought at the time that the CBW capability had been smuggled in for the Abu Abbas Palestinian faction, long supported by Baghdad, might carry out such an attack. With a large émigré Iraqi population at large in Britain it was feared that Iraqi Intelligence cells were embedded.

It is still worth noting today the presence of a large antenna atop the building. During the war a nearby University department suffered RFI to some of its more sensitive experiments as the Iraqi Embassy used its transmitter along with comings and goings of a variety of strangers noted within a nearby University building. With the high RF field available one wonders if such persons as mentioned were concerned with interception of Iraqi communications.

It should be noted that during the refurbishment work the RDPG attended the Embassy buildings on more than one occasion. What connection this might have to anyting found within is unknown, but a security firm of Locksmiths and Safemakers had a white van outside. Their operative was seen to come from the Embassy.

©PLondon 1997, 2005 article and all imagery.

With this last paragraph in mind PLondon was glad to receive a cellphone call on 29/06 that alerted him to a Times Newspaper account of this find. It is reproduced below:

June 09, 2005

‘Tools of assassins and spies found at embassy

By Michael Evans, Defence Editor

POLICE are carrying out tests on a cache of weapons found in a safe at the old Iraqi Embassy in London to uncover any possible links with assassination plots by the former Saddam Hussein regime. The weapons, including four machineguns, ten hand guns with four silencers and 600 rounds of ammunition, half of which were used cartridges, were discovered by Salah al-Shaikhly, the post-Saddam Iraqi Ambassador.

He had to employ authorised “safe-crackers” to open the safe. Also found were all the trappings of espionage, including bugging devices and telescopic cameras; and electric cattle-prods, suitable for crowd control or torture.

You really despair when you have this kind of arsenal kept at the Iraq Embassy”, Dr al-Shaikhly said. As soon as the weapons were found he called in Scotland Yard and handed them over for investigation.

MI5, which is expected to be consulted by Scotland Yard over the discovery, used to monitor closely the comings and goings of the Saddam regime “diplomats” up until the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, when diplomatic relations were severed. From then until the fall of Saddam in 2003, Baghdad was represented by an interests section in the Jordanian Embassy.

The previously elegant embassy building in Queen’s Gate, Kensington, has remained empty for years, and although thieves and vandals have trashed the interiors, the various safes on the floor above the ambassador’s office where the old regime intelligence service was based, had defeated the burglars.

Dr al-Shaikhly said that the discovery of the listening devices showed that the Saddam regime was paranoid about security. “I believe that they must have been bugging their own people inside the embassy. Such was the regime, they didn’t trust anybody. Everybody was spying on everybody else”, he told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Embassy said that the former Iraqi intelligence service used to plot against dissidents in Britain, and there had been several cases of assassinations or attempted assassinations. “Sometimes they would bring people in with false passports to do a job and then they would leave the country,” the official said.

Ballistic tests on the weapons could uncover whether any of the guns has criminal provenance. In July 1978 General Abdul Razak al-Naief, a former Iraqi Prime Minister living in exile from the Saddam regime, was assassinated in Mayfair by a gunman who was operating from the Iraqi Embassy. The hitman, Salam Hassan, was rugby-tackled by an ex-serviceman who had given chase, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment in March 1979.

Also in the 1970s there was an attempt on the life of Iyad Allawi, the first Prime Minister in Baghdad after the fall of Saddam, when he was living in London in exile; and in the 1980s there was an explosion inside the Iraqi Embassy, but the police were refused entry to investigate.

Scotland Yard said that the Iraqi Ambassador had cooperated fully with the British authorities and the arms included one Uzi sub-machinegun and a Kalashnikov.

Referring to the electric prod devices found in the safe, Dr al-Shaikhly said they looked like cattle prods. “They are the kind of things used in some countries for crowd control”, he said. The arms cache was found only when the new Iraqi Government in Baghdad decided to renovate the derelict embassy building. There were more than a dozen unopened safes but only one of them produced a surprise.

Although the Ambassador speculated that the weapons might have been used for training purposes, Iraqi officials said that the intelligence service personnel sent to London in the Saddam era were already fully trained for assassinating dissidents in exile.

Iraqi diplomats are expecting to return to their former premises next year.



Iraqi flag

NOTE: 17th July is Iraq National Day
and we’ll bet you didn’t know that!

Reviewing the situation on 30/06 PLondon discovered that BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme, transmitted 0745z 08/06/05 had interviewed the new new Iraqi ambassador to London, Dr Salah Al Shaikhly . The piece, that produced a potted history of the Queen’s Gate Building. Much of what Dr Al Shaikhly said is born out within this article. It was correctly said that the stuff mentuioned in the programme was worthy of a spy novel. It appears that Intelligence was at work within the Diplomatic post of the old regime and the finds of telescopic lens’, bugging devices, cattle prods and a variety of firearms, “Kalashnikov rifle, Uzi and a couple of other makes, Silencers and handguns” perhaps bears that out.

The BBC piece of 8th June can be listened to : http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/zwednesday_20050608.shtml

It is described as: “0745z 08/06/05 The new Iraqi ambassador to London, Dr Salah Al Shaikhly, takes us on tour of the embassy building and its darker aspects.” [note time stated in GMT].

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