U.S. asks Israel to take in Guantanamo inmate (& Snowden claims UK spies on Israel)

December 09, 2016

* Guantanamo inmate Mohammed Abed al-Malik Bajabo is suspected of involvement in the 2002 Mombasa attack in which three Israeli tourists and 14 Kenyans were killed, and the attempt to shoot down an Arkia airlines flight from Mombasa to Tel Aviv. Israel is said to have agreed to take Bajabo, but the FBi is refusing to hand over the necessary files so Israel can’t move forward with the process.

* ThyssenKrupp, the German maker of Israel’s new fleet of (allegedly nuclear-capable) submarines, has been the victim of a “massive cyberattack”.

* British intelligence spied on Israeli diplomats, new Edward Snowden leaks reveal. Britain’s GCHQ reportedly collected information on the second highest ranking official in the Israeli foreign ministry, as well as Israeli envoys at embassies elsewhere.

* Le Monde: The U.S. and Britain have refined their ability to tap into airline passenger’s mobile phones while they are in the air. “The NSA and the GCHQ are able to intercept data from passengers traveling on board commercial aircrafts. France’s national airline, Air France, has been a prime target.”



I attach several pieces from the last two days connected to intelligence and security matters.

But first, on a different note, regarding John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, who died on Thursday at the age of 95:

New York magazine reports that Glenn’s closest friend was Henri Landwirth, a Holocaust survivor. Like many Holocaust survivors, through fear and anxiety, Landwirth was in the habit of covering up the tattoo on his arm, even in hot weather, in the years following the Holocaust.

But after Glenn saw the tattoo on Henri Landwirth’s arm, Glenn said, “I’d wear that number like a medal with a spotlight on it.”

-- Tom Gross

* See also: Revealed: US and UK broke Israeli encryption codes, have been spying on Israel for past 18 years (Jan. 29, 2016)


1. “U.S. reportedly asked Israel to take in and try Guantanamo inmate” (By Barak Ravid, Haaretz, Dec. 9, 2016)
2. “German maker of Israeli submarines says secrets stolen in “massive” cyberattack” (Reuters / Haaretz, Dec. 8, 2016)
3. “British intelligence spied on Israeli diplomats, new Edward Snowden leaks reveal” (JTA, Dec. 8, 2016)
4. “La surveillance de la diplomatie israélienne” (Le Monde, Dec. 7, 2016)
5. “U.S. and Britain refine their ability to tap into airline passenger’s mobile phones while they are in the air” (Le Monde, Dec. 8, 2016)



(You can read the fill piece from the Miami Herald on which the Haaretz piece is based, here.)

U.S. Reportedly Asked Israel to Take in and Try Guantanamo Inmate
By Barak Ravid
December 9, 2016

The Obama administration requested in April that a Kenyan Islamic terrorist, jailed at Guantanamo Bay since 2007 be transferred to an Israeli facility and tried by Israel, according to a Friday report in the Miami Herald.

American intelligence has connected the inmate, Mohammed Abed al-Malik Bajabo, to a terror attack against Israeli tourists in Mombasa in 2002. Senior American sources said that Israel said it was prepared to accept and try the prisoner but that the process hasn’t moved forward since because the FBI has yet to give Israel the interrogation transcripts and other documents.

Over the past few years, the Obama administration has tried to pass all of the suspected terrorists held in Guantanamo in Cuba to third-party countries with the end goal of shutting down the prison. Guantanamo is infamous for a lack of judicial procedure and its use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” labeled as such by the administration of George W. Bush, but considered torture by many others.

Some of the prisoners from Guantanamo were eventually tried in U.S. courts, others were released and the remaining few, 29 in all, can’t legally be tried in the U.S. on one hand, and can’t be released on the other, due to the alleged danger they pose. This situation led the administration to search for other countries across the world that would agree to try the prisoners in their territory.

In April, the U.S. Foreign Ministry’s Special Envoy for Guantanamo, Lee Wolosky, visited Israel and met with senior Israeli officials who expressed interest in accepting the Kenyan prisoner. According to the Miami Herald report, the Israeli government asked the U.S. for relevant information from the investigation into Bajabo in order to move forward with the process, but the FBI refused to pass along the material, which includes Bajabo’s confession of involvement in the Mombasa attack.

Without the materials, the process cannot move forward and has effectively remained blocked for several months.

Three Israeli tourists and 14 Kenyans were killed in Mombasa on November 28, 2002 when terrorists from an al-Qaida-affiliated organization detonated a car bomb and their suicide vests at the hotel Paradise. On the same day, terrorists attempted to shoot down an Akria airlines flight from Mombasa to Tel Aviv, firing two anti-air missiles during take off.



German Maker of Israeli Submarines Says Secrets Stolen in “Massive” Cyberattack
Reuters and Haaretz
December 8, 2016

ThyssenKrupp, the German maker of Israel’s new fleet of submarines, has been the victim of a “massive” cyberattack, the company said Thursday.

The company, which owns the shipyards now building new warships for Israel, has been in the center of a scandal in recent weeks involving Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and the role he might have played in Israel’s deal to buy the submarines.

According to ThyssenKrupp, technical trade secrets were stolen earlier this year in the hack, the steelmaker said on Thursday. “ThyssenKrupp has become the target of a massive cyberattack,” the German company said in a statement.

In attacks discovered in April and traced back to February, hackers stole project data from ThyssenKrupp’s plant engineering division and from other areas yet to be determined, the company said.

Israel has bought submarines from ThyssenKrupp for billions of dollars. Iran, which indirectly owns stock in the group, has received the equivalent of tens of millions of euros in dividends from ThyssenKrupp, a Haaretz investigation of the company’s financial reports revealed.

ThyssenKrupp, one of the world’s largest steel makers, attributed the breaches to unnamed attackers located in southeast Asia. It did not identify which documents were stolen and said it could not estimate the scale of the intellectual property losses.

A criminal complaint was filed with police in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, it said.

Secured systems operating steel blast furnaces and power plants in Duisburg, in Germany’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr Valley, were unaffected, the company said.

No breaches have been found at other businesses ranging from elevators to its marine systems unit, which produces military submarines and warships.

ThyssenKrupp is a major supplier of steel to Germany’s automotive sector and other manufacturers.

It said the attack was uncovered by ThyssenKrupp’s in house computer emergency response team. State and federal cyber security and data protection authorities were informed.

The management board was made aware of the attacks at an early stage, it said.



British Intelligence Spied on Israeli Diplomats, Snowden Leaks Reveal
JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, New York)
December 8, 2016

British intelligence spied on Israeli diplomats and defense firms in addition to its military, the French daily Le Monde reported based on leaked documents.

The report Wednesday was based on documents that came into the possession of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who worked for U.S. intelligence before publishing in 2013 classified material and fleeing to Russia, Le Monde reported.

According to the newspaper, Britain’s GCHQ intelligence-gathering apparatus collected information on a person described by Le Monde as the second highest ranking official in the Israeli foreign ministry. That person was not named. The British also spied on the Palestinian Authority, the report said.

Email correspondence belonging to the Israeli ambassadors to Nigeria and Kenya was also the subject of British intelligence-gathering efforts as was Ophir Optronics, a firm deemed to be tied to the Israeli defense establishment that specializes in fiber optics.

The Le Monde report followed a previous publication based on documents stolen by Snowden dealing with spying by U.S. and British intelligence on Israeli military aircraft.

GCHQ and its American counterpart, the NSA, had collected for 18 years drone transmissions after cracking the Israeli army’s encryption for communication among fighter jets, drones and army bases.

The information was reported in January by The Intercept and the German newspaper Der Spiegel.

Britain and the United States reportedly have used this access to monitor Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip, watch for a potential strike on Iran and keep tabs on the drone technology that Israel exports.



This is an excerpt from the longer article in Le Monde on which the above JTA report is based:

La surveillance de la diplomatie israélienne


Officiellement, Israël et les deux agences de surveillance anglo-saxonnes les plus puissantes, l’Agence nationale de sécurité (NSA) américaine et son homologue britannique, le GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), sont unis par une sacro-sainte alliance. Intense du fait des enjeux de survie pour Israël, confiante au regard de l’excellence reconnue aux Israéliens en matière d’espionnage, et en forte croissance depuis dix ans, cette coopération unique a pourtant une face plus obscure.

Les documents consultés par Le Monde montrent que les Britanniques ont espionné la diplomatie israélienne, aussi bien à Jérusalem qu’à l’étranger. Ils visaient aussi des sociétés privées du secteur de la défense, des organismes d’Etat chargés de la coopération internationale ou encore des centres universitaires connus pour leur très haut niveau scientifique.

The Wall Street Journal et Der Spiegel avaient déjà montré que les services anglais et américains avaient surveillé les communications du premier ministre Benyamin Nétanyahou et celles du bureau du premier ministre Ehoud Olmert. Selon nos informations, les espions ratissent beaucoup plus large. Ils visaient des services de l’Etat, notamment ses diplomates. Parmi ces identifiants figurent ainsi le numéro de téléphone du numéro deux du ministère des affaires étrangères israélien ou encore les e-mails d’ambassadeurs en poste à Nairobi, au Kenya, et à Abuja, au Nigeria. Mais on trouve aussi parmi les cibles de ces agences des employés de sociétés de défense, comme Ophir Optronics, l’un des fleurons de la fibre optique et du laser, deux éléments-clés des armements modernes et des industries de pointe, ou encore des centres de recherche de l’université hébraïque de Jérusalem.

Au Proche-Orient, la NSA et le GCHQ ne font pas d’exceptions : tout comme Israël, l’Autorité palestinienne a été mise sous surveillance serrée par les agences américaines et britanniques. Là encore, la NSA et son homologue britannique entretiennent pourtant d’étroites relations avec la monarchie jordanienne et l’Autorité palestinienne dans le domaine du renseignement. La NSA et l’EWD, le service de renseignement électronique jordanien, sont même de très proches alliés : « A lui seul, l’EWD fournit une grande part des noms d’individus ciblés par la NSA » dans cette région, reconnaît une note des services américains. Pourtant, dans les longues listes d’interceptions du GCHQ, se trouvent les coordonnées de la cour royale de Jordanie, du chef du protocole du roi et de l’ambassade de Jordanie à Washington.

L’Autorité palestinienne a également fait l’objet d’une surveillance intensive, loin de se limiter aux hauts responsables. Fin 2008 et en 2009, le GCHQ a ainsi ciblé les communications du cabinet du secrétaire général de l’OLP et celles d’un grand nombre de délégations palestiniennes dans le monde. Notamment en France, en Belgique, au Portugal, au Pakistan, en Afrique du Sud ou en Malaisie. Des figures palestiniennes modérées étaient également espionnées : le Dr Ahmed Tibi, homme politique et député arabe israélien, chef du Mouvement arabe pour le renouveau, ou encore Ahmed Qoreï, premier ministre de l’Autorité entre 2003 et 2006. Autant d’éléments qui rappellent une règle ancienne de l’espionnage : les amis n’existent pas.


See also from Le Monde (in English), December 8, 2016:

U.S. and Britain refine their ability to tap into airline passenger’s mobile phones while they are in the air.



Because of a technical fault, the last 19 dispatches on this list were not posted on my website until two days ago. For those interested, you can now read them here, including:


(1) Concerns about the Alt-Right (and Alt-Left)
(2) East Aleppo’s last clown, RIP (& Arabs donate wood to rebuild burned synagogue)
(3) Abbas orders Palestinian flags be flown at half-mast for Castro (& CNN apologizes)
(4) Sheikh Qaradawi retracts Fatwa encouraging Palestinian suicide attacks
(5) Hamas leader says Trump may be a Jew
(6) Pakistan birther theory: Trump was born Muslim
(7) I’m a Muslim, female immigrant and voted for Trump
(8) Trump’s Israel advisors likely to usher in era of improved US-Israel ties
(9) British MP: Parliament needs to apologize to Israel and the Jews
(10) Bystanders to Genocide (& Why some wars get more attention than others)


* Please “like” these dispatches on Facebook here www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia, where you can also find other items that are not in these dispatches.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.