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The crisis of the French intelligence services and the attacks in Paris

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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The victims of the Paris attacks, not to mention those of the jihadist and Qaedist massacres in Madrid (2004) and London (2005) are the tragic evidence that the strategic certainties of the old bilateral world are really over.

This means that any State or any terrorist group – albeit small or technologically “backward” – can harshly hit a large nation, regardless of the size and quality of its defense and intelligence apparatus.

The conflict asymmetry rewards small States and terrorist groups, not the States which won the Cold War and, indeed, also left a void in the key strategic axis between the Eurasian peninsula and Central Asia, thus allowing in it the development of the Shia-Sunni confrontation, at first, and then the development of the sword jihad, the Sunnis’ asymmetric tool against Alì’s Iranian followers and their allies, particularly Russia and China.

The global hegemony over the huge Islamic world is the real stake between the two ancient sections of the Koranic prophecy.

Furthermore, in the French case, the intelligence services were reformed, particularly in view of a widespread terrorist threat – which leads us to believe that the reform of the French intelligence services is not a part of the solution, but part of the problem.

The first instrument of French legislation to counter terrorism, especially the jihadist one, was the Law of July 22, 1996, which envisaged the crime of “terrorist-related criminal association” – a law which allowed to pursue the “criminals” also in the preparatory phase of a terrorist action.

It is worth reiterating that the sword jihad is not mere “terrorism”. Terror is an effect and an operational choice of the jihad, but not the only one.

When the jihadists are even stronger, they will create their own neighborhoods in European suburbs. They will control them and impose their law as the only one, or they will act as a real army, exactly as it happens in the Raqqa Caliphate with specific reference to Al Qaeda’s global terrorism.

It depends on us and on our level of response, in France as in Italy and elsewhere.

Terrorism is a strategy of void which, like water, adapts itself to the container in which it is stored, that is our response to the jihad.

“Lure the tiger off its mountain lair,” as suggested by one of the immortal Thirty-Six Stratagems of Chinese warfare.

However, let us revert to France: the 2006 law on the “localization of terrorist networks” envisaged the possibility for investigators – even without the judges’ immediate authorization – to draw on the telephone and Internet data related to terrorists. In 2008 there was the merger between the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST) and the Direction Centrale des Renseignements généraux (DCRG).

In French practices and regulations, none of the two structures is a real intelligence service: neither the DST nor the DGRC are the Italian equivalent of SISDE or AISI.

Nevertheless, we are faced with a real paradox: they deal with the “old-style” data, which can be used quickly and effectively by the police, but they forget the “new” data regarding recruitment, terrorist preaching and covert political-religious organization which, unfortunately – also in this new legal configuration – are protected by the authorization of the judges, who often have not all the data available – and the same, however, holds true also for Italy.

“We suffer not only from the living, but from the dead. Le mort saisit le vif!”, as Karl Marx wrote at the beginning of Capital.

In terms of regulations regarding the actual structure of French intelligence services, the essential reform dates back to 2009 with Decree No. 1657 of December 24, 2009, which defined the establishment of the Conseil de Défense et de Sécurité nationale, which is also the body responsible for strategic planning.

In the framework of the fight against the jihad and in the framework of everybody’s pressing economic war against everybody else which characterizes the current times, we need to unite, centralize and verticalize the analysis of the various threats and the response to them.

Nevertheless the jihad is a handmade and unsophisticated war, which is waged with few – and often poor – resources and means (especially in its Qaedist phase) and, when it comes to the Defense Council’s level, it is often too late.

The new French legislation also defines the establishment of the Secrétariat général de la défense et de la sécurité nationale – which is basically the equivalent of the Italian Department of Intelligence for Security (DIS).

Certainly there is a primary need to connect the intelligence services to each other and to the police and law enforcement agencies, as well as to exchange data and build profiles of the jihadists and their organizations. Nevertheless also a pre-terrorist warning system would be needed in relation to the Internet networks – in which much can also be hidden and not appear as a crime – and in the mosques where the control – which is particularly deep, at least in Italy – can be bypassed by some militants more careful than usual.

To put it bluntly, the problem lies in the fact that the Islamist populations are already too many: the possibility for a jihadist to become a militant, be trained, be able to operate under cover, move, travel and carry out propaganda is greater if a large – and often very large – number of his/her Koranic fellow brothers/sisters willy-nilly cover and protect him/her.

It is now impossible to control a mass of data as the one we should check if we monitored all Islamic communities – something which in fact we should do.

Profiling, registration and booking is inevitable, but the terrorists already reported to the authorities, both in France and in Italy, know what to do: they go underground – they change environment and operate with other organizations.

The issue lies in blocking recruitment and training, not in just tracking the old jihadists already known by the law enforcement agencies (albeit this must be done anyway).

Another problem, shared both by France and Italy, is the scarcity of funds for the intelligence services and activities.

Has the blame to be laid on the political culture of those who have come to power in recent years? Has the blame to be certainly laid on a ruling class that sees business everywhere, but does not know that business always requires confidential information? Finally has the blame to be laid on an easy slaying match – a blame game played both in Italy and in France: has something gone wrong? It is the intelligence services’ fault.

In the French legislation, however, the good idea is to merge the two internal services (far too many), but be connected in a centralized manner with the judiciary, possibly with a single chain of command devoted solely to the fight against the jihad.

According to the latest data, the already studied Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur (DCRI) has 3,300 people, including 2,500 operational ones. Too few. They are fewer than the jihadists operating in France.

The real problem, however, lies in the overlapping, duplication of efforts and interference between the DCRI and the Direction générale de la Sécurité extérieure (DGSE).

Despite the central governance structure, which does not deal with the daily routine issues, and despite the merger of the two Internal Services, the DGSE has no structural links with the DCRI repression/intelligence actions in France.

A severe structural flaw, which is probably at the origin of the recent French intelligence failure.

The DGSE certainly received the documents on the attacks from the Iraqi intelligence services – exactly twenty-four hours before the tragedy of the attacks on the Bataclan and the Stade de France, but it did not coordinate its activity and cross-check data with the internal services which, as often happens, are very well informed about the local jihadist networks.

Certainly many terrorists came from Belgium, but a series of controls and checks on the cars rented, for example, or on the recent movements of jihadist militants, well-known to the authorities, would be the minimum necessary to carry out a proper intelligence activity, after the assassinations perpetrated in the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the inconsistent and basically pro-Islamist reaction of the French population.

The slogan Je suis Charlie is nonsense: it does not name the victims, nor indicate the perpetrators. It is only a way to apply a marketing technique to politics – and we fear that this will happen again.

We fear that it will happen again. Je suis Bataclan: a great demonstration, the Celtic rune epitomizing pacifism everywhere, as if – on the contrary – we should not wage a war against the jihad, but simply surrender. So much “political show” and then nothing.

It is by no mere coincidence that, behind the current French State’s laïcité (secularism), there is a mechanism which protects especially the Islam, even the most radical, with the rules on “Islamophobia” – a word which is absolutely meaningless.

After all, in 2014, the French trade with the United Arab Emirates amounted to 5.17 billion euros, with 40% of imports from France in the Gulf. Qatar, which is investing in France massively, has 100 billion US dollar worth of sovereign funds, and definitely wants to diversify its economy, which is still one of the three richest economies in the world, but depends on hydrocarbons for 80% of its revenue.

Do you really think that the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or other countries in the region do not exert political pressure, also at cultural level, on Israel, on their Sunni enemies within the region, or even on Iran?

While the polemic against Israel and Hebraism has become common currency in France and will shortly become so also in Italy. From a psycho-political viewpoint, this clear message is conveyed: we Europeans, who sing John Lennon’s Imagine, want to be submissive and subdued, but unfortunately the presence of the Jewish communities makes us targets of the jihad.

This is what they want: if the Islamist minority gets rooted in Europe – which will have accepted the expulsion of the Jews for the biblical mess of pottage – the prophecy of the old leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, will be fulfilled : “We do not need to impose the jihad in Europe, it will become Islamic for demographic reasons”.

Hence, as suggested by the para-jihadist propaganda, if we had not the Jews among us, the relationship with Islam would be peaceful and Quranists would come to massively finance our now mature economies.

Tragic mistakes, but subtly present throughout our European political and symbolic communication.

Hence, reverting to the organization and structure of the French intelligence services, the structural lack of cooperation between the DGSE – which has been weakened by the various “reforms” of the internal service – and the DCRI is, in all likelihood, at the origin of the information flaw which led to the Paris massacre of November 13, 2015.

The day of St. Augustine’s birth.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Hacking of the Newswires connected with Trading: A refresher for the business community

Bob Budahl

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This case I am touching on is regarding Leonid Momotok in which he and other traders used insider trading information from not yet released press releases to amass windfalls in illegal trading. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in his role to hack into three business newswires and obtain through theft the information related to finance that enabled illegal trading advantages. Their trades resulted in at least $30million in illegal profits. He pleaded guilty and faced up to 20 years in prison, restitution, a fine and criminal forfeiture.

The crux of the enabling operation to obtain an illegal advantage was gained through computer hackers in Ukraine who gained intrusion into Marketwired L.P, PR Newswire Association LLC (PRN) and Business Wire (Newswire Companies).Marketwired is owned by NASDAQ Inc., Business Wire is part of the billionaire Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and PR Newswire is a Cision unit. The hackers used cyber-attack methods to obtain entry into the Newswire Companies’ networks. Once in, they stole upcoming press announcements about earnings, gross margins, confidential and material financial information and revenue information. They even sent messages regarding their activities. They went on to state they had gained access to the log-on to 15 wire business employees. While the traders made lists of what information they wanted, the hackers provided instructions on how to access and use the overseas server networks. And by having insider information before the public release the traders capitalized by placing trades prior to release date of the press releases. Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, Panera Bread, Home Depot and others were some of those affected regarding nonpublic information. The hackers received a percentage of the profits and received it through shell corporations.       

The Dubovoy Group defendants tried to avoid detection by spreading their trading to more than 10 brokers firms in various names, etc. They helped each other with the activities as much as able. They stole over 100,000 unpublished press releases. Leonid Momotok owned 1% interest in two of Arkadiy Dubovoy’s companies.“He advised Arkadiy Dubovoy how to trade using the stolen information, and he had formal trading authority for brokerage accounts used in the scheme but held in the name of other members of the Dubovoy Group, …p 12.’

Involvement in the apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators included many government agencies. The President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force had a leading hand in the pursuit and prosecution.

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9-11 Terrorist Attack: Defensive countermeasures of deter and detect

Bob Budahl

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On September 11, 2001 at 8:46 a.m. an airliner slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. At 9:03 a.m. a 2nd airliner slammed into the South Tower. The planes carried thousands of gallons of jet-fuel aboard in effect making them lethal weapons. Tens of thousands of people worked in these buildings daily and both buildings fell to the ground within 90 minutes. More than 2,600 people died in the World Trade Center tower attacks. Then at 9:37 a.m. a 3rd airliner rammed into the western side of the Pentagon. 125 people died in the Pentagon attack. And a 4thairliner was intended for attack in either the U.S. Capitol or White House but the heroics of passengers crashed the plane, hence thwarting the attack. A total of 256 people died in the four planes. The death toll even surpassed the Pearl Harbor attacks of 1941.

Those responsible for the horrific attack were 19 Arabs carrying out Islamist extremists plans. Their headquarters were located in Afghanistan. They were resourceful and some had lived in the United States for some time and four of them had trained to be pilots. They were not well educated. They carried out the terrible attacks with knives, cutters, mace, etc. And they had tried to bring down the World Trade Center in 1993 but failed however in the result killed six people and wounded a thousand. It was an effort led by Ramzi Yousef. Others including Omar Abdel Rahman who had plans to blow up the Lincoln and Holland tunnels and other New York City landmarks, but they were arrested. Ramzi Yousef and others had various other terror plans of which some succeeded and some fortunately did not.

Bin Ladin was known and thought to be a financier but not thought of as a terrorist leader until later. In 1998 Bin Ladin and four others issued a fatwa in which it was publicly declaring it was God’s order that Muslims should try to kill any American they could. Bin Ladin was a wealthy Saudi and had conducted jihadist activities against the Soviet Union. But he also held grievances against the United States such as a U.S. troop presence in Saudi Arabia. He recruited and trained followers in Afghanistan and continued carrying out acts of terror, including on the United States. His people attacked embassies, hotels, and even attempted to sink the USS Cole Navy Ship by a terrorist attack. His rhetoric is derived from Islam, history and the economic and political disorder in the area. He formed an alliance between the al Qaeda group he led and the Taliban. The Clinton administration had tried cruise missile strikes against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and tried to get the Taliban to force Bin Ladin to leave Afghanistan. The U.S. unsuccessfully utilized CIA paid foreign agents to try to capture or kill Bin Ladin and his group.

As early as 1998 or 1999 Bin Ladin had been contacted by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed with an idea of using the planes as a method of attacking the World Trade Center and other targets. The original plans were for 10 planes to target both east and west coasts of the United States. The CIA did uncover some reports of Bin Ladin’s intent on attacks. The U.S. continued its disruption attempts globally and also utilized diplomacy with countries. The “predator drone” was eventually fitted with a missile should an attack on Bin Ladin provide an opportunity. Some of the reasons and connections to the actions of the perpetrators of the planned 9-11 terrorist attack became apparent after the attack. Unrest had come to the surface in the time before the attack as the Taliban leader opposed attacking the United States, in contrast to Bin Ladin’s wishes.

On 9/11 the terrorists were successful in hijacking the four planes. The planes were being used as terrorist weapons and confusion was present with air control. But eventually the FAA and NORAD who controlled airspace did receive a “shoot down order” but it was after the plane in Pennsylvania had been forced down by passengers in the only way to stop the plane from being used as a weapon.      

The enactment of the United States “Patriot Act” removed barriers that had impeded terrorism investigations in their outlay, scope and means. And in effect sped up the investigation and prosecution of the defendants. The FBI was point on the investigation that followed the attack and the operation was named Operation PENTTBOM. At one time more than half of the FBI’s personnel worked on the case. They followed through on more than one-half million leads. It was the largest crime scene in the FBI’s history.  Also in the time period following the 9/11 attack the Department of Homeland Security was created in March 2003, which brought together 22 separate agencies and offices into a Cabinet level department. The 9/11 Commission had made several recommendations and in this report some details are brought forward. These would be included under the defensive counterintelligence support mode of operation and include the principles of deter and detect within the countermeasures. It included recognizing 72 fusion centers throughout the country which acts as a focal point for receipt, analysis and sharing of threat related information. Also establishing related training and informational programs to deal with threats. One such example is the National Terrorism Advisory System. And the DHS developed and implemented a risk-based transportation security strategy. An action taken such as strengthening airline passenger’s pre-screening and targeting terrorist travel will deter terrorists as they become aware of increased security measures and thwart terrorists from attempting to board airlines for terrorist activities. The airliner’s cabin cockpit doors have been hardened post-911 and Air Marshalls are used appropriately as well as some flight crew being eligible to carry firearms. The TSA behavior detection officers use non-intrusive behavior observation to identify people who may be high risk. The TSA also utilizes detection methods such as canine teams to sniff for explosives on passengers and in luggage. Post 9/11 all cargo on U.S. planes is screened commensurate with their checked luggage. The flights coming into the U.S. from foreign countries are required to provide information prior to departure and checks all passengers against watch lists the government utilizes such as the Secure Flight Program. It also increases efficiency by allowing those cross-checked with biometrics to have expedited travel.

Today a significant defensive countermeasure post-911 is that airlines now screen all checked and carry-on baggage for explosives. The U.S. has increased security of U.S. borders and identification documents. Certain areas are closely watched and critical security improvements along the Northern and maritime are emplaced. The Dept. Of Homeland Security has taken aggressive action to enhance the security of the nation’s infrastructure and also cyber infrastructure and networks. There in a federal government system cyber intrusion detection system which includes EINSTEIN and the National Cybersecurity and communications integration center is the nation’s hub for organizing cyber response efforts. DHS and DOD are working together to protect against threats to military and civilian computer systems and networks. This is another example of defensive countermeasures. DNDO is affiliated with nuclear detection and back in 2003 only 68% of arriving trucks and passenger vehicles were scanned along the northern border with no system on the southwest border. But today the systems scan 100% of all containerized cargo and personal vehicles arriving in the U.S. through land port of entries and up to 99% of sea containers. Counter-proliferation of nuclear and biological threats is a high priority of the DHS. The tragic occurrence of 9-11 has brought about real focus on the danger of leaving vulnerabilities open to exploitation. The DHS also has importantly increased efforts to track and disrupt terrorist financing through programs such as ECTF or Electronic Crimes Task Force.

Another action taken post-9/11 was the creation of the National Counterterrorism Center or NCTC which was to serve 5 functions which were; Threat Analysis, Identity Management, Information sharing, Strategic Operational Planning and National Intelligence Management.

The U.S. Department of Justice charged ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI with numerous terrorism charges and indicates others involved in the terrorist acts. The United States Department of Defense obtained a video tape of Bin Ladin basically accepting responsibility of the 9-11 attacks and the DOD has a transcript of the video and a portion I will quote is as follows. UBL refers to Osama Bin Ladin: “UBL: The brothers, who conducted the operation, all they knew was that they have a martyrdom operation and we asked each of them to go to America but they didn’t know anything about the operation, not even one letter.  But they were trained and we did not reveal the operation to them until they are there and just before they boarded the planes.UBL: (…inaudible…) then he said: Those who were trained to fly didn’t know the others.”

Bin Ladin, America’s most wanted terrorist was killed by United States Special Forces in a compound in Pakistan on May 2, 2011. The CIA had been involved in investigating Bin Ladin for years.      

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Counterintelligence Threat Brief for Turkey

Bob Budahl

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I will provide a Counterintelligence threat brief on traditional and non-traditional Counterintelligence threats to non-security cleared individuals who are traveling to Turkey as business travelers or for personal reasons. MIT, the official Turkey intelligence agency is active. And non-traditional threats also exist as Turkey includes diverse elements of persons from different Muslim nations. Some of which include terrorist groups with their main base of operation located in a different country but also operating within Turkey. As seen in EurAsia Review, conflicts that were usually based on national interests today are based typically on non-national interests such as ethnicity, religion and culture. Asymmetric warfare rather than having a clear issue now has several. And a weaker enemy will use it strengths against a superior adversaries weaknesses.

Using OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) to conduct my research I uncovered motive for Turkey seeking intelligence from the United States. Turkey is a NATO ally and an American ally. However, that is the crux of their relationship. It has never encompassed social and economic theology. They are predominately a Muslim country and have disagreements about many aspects of wars and conflicts that the US had interests in such as Iraq and Syria. Turkey targets Kurd fighters in Syria while we support them. And they opposed the action President Trump put in place of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capitol. There is a great amount of suspicion and mistrust regarding the failed coup of President Erdoğan. And Fethullah Gülen, the suspected leader of the attempted coup resides in the United States and refuses to extradite him. They believe Gulen is responsible for the assassination of Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov. They have typically bought US military products and technology but have made a deal with Russia to purchase an advanced missile defense system. Andrew Brunson who is an American Pastor is being held and faces spying charges and thus far efforts to release him are unsuccessful. They are suspicious of everyone. They will not hesitate to leverage information acquired through their intelligence services from the United States or any source. Turkey has long been thought of as torn between the East and West. In Turkey if you access the internet via a local ISP they can install spyware on your computer that can control it. Charter Schools are being targeted by Turkey since Gulen was instrumental in them and that tie is enough for Erdogan to lash out. MIT-Turkey’s intelligence agency places agents in journalist positions as cover which often leads to someone divulging information that is considered private.

If Turkey has decided to spy on you it probably originates from passport screening. Some things that a US visitor should be aware of are to self-assess if you could be thought of as a terrorist, narcotics trafficker or criminal. Black market activity. Do not be caught with suspicious or incriminating luggage. Do not identify known associations that Turkey may find incriminating. They may utilize any of these ways to recruit you as an asset of theirs. Usually direct and indirect activities used in conducting their intelligence operations are non-threatening and unobtrusive. Beware of local laws and customs as one example is in Turkey derogatory comments regarding government and its leaders are prohibited. It may be illegal to use insulting language.

Information Turkey may covet and target from a target such as a defense contractor non-intelligence employee may include customer data, employee data, vendor information, pricing strategies, propriety information, technical plans, corporate strategies, financials, computer access protocols, acquisition strategies, investment date, business directories of phone and emails. They may be subtle and use elicitation to gain information slowly and by gaining your trust. Be alert for tips. Throw them off their own game by asking why they ask. Refer them to public sources if specifically targeted questions are posed. Or say you cannot discuss it or just do not know. Examples of things I would consider for combating their intelligence collection efforts are to use rental electronic devices. Disable the Wi-Fi. And on the flight travel with the device as carry-on luggage. Do not use foreign storage devices in your devices. Do not leave documents and information in your hotel room. Do not use the hotel safe. Select your own cab.

But sometimes harassment incidents are utilized and obviously are meant to intimidate or test a US citizen’s reactions. If harassment is selected to be used on a prospective recruit it can be used in a variety of means.

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