Category Archives: Espionage

The science of spying: how the CIA secretly recruits academics

The CIA agent tapped softly on the hotel room door. After the keynote speeches, panel discussions and dinner, the conference attendees had retired for the night. Audio and visual surveillance of the room showed that the nuclear scientist’s minders from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were sleeping, but he was still awake. Sure enough, he opened the door, alone.

According to a person familiar with this encounter, which took place about a decade ago, the agency had been preparing it for months. Through a business front, it had funded and staged the conference at an unsuspecting foreign centre of scientific research, invited speakers and guests, and planted operatives among the kitchen workers and other staff, just so it could entice the nuclear expert out of Iran, separate him for a few minutes from his guards, and pitch him one-to-one. A last-minute snag had almost derailed the plans: the target switched hotels because the conference’s preferred hotel cost $75 more than his superiors in Iran were willing to spend.

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Yuri Drozdov: The man who turned Soviet spies into Americans

Yuri Drozdov once said it could take up to seven years to train an “illegal”, the Soviet spies planted abroad under false or assumed identities, sometimes for decades.

As former chief of the KGB intelligence agency’s Directorate S, which managed the illegals programme, Drozdov knew more than most about what it took to prepare someone for the task.

He had to train Soviet agents to talk, think and act, even subconsciously, like the regular American, Brit, German or Frenchman they would become from the moment they touched down on foreign soil.

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Killing C.I.A. Informants, China Crippled U.S. Spying Operations

WASHINGTON — The Chinese government systematically dismantled C.I.A. spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward.

Current and former American officials described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. It set off a scramble in Washington’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies to contain the fallout, but investigators were bitterly divided over the cause. Some were convinced that a mole within the C.I.A. had betrayed the United States. Others believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the C.I.A. used to communicate with its foreign sources. Years later, that debate remains unresolved.

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A Moscow spy worked for two decades under cover in Europe by building a fake biography. There are others.

One June night in 2010, Henry Frith asked the son of his live-in partner for a lift to Madrid airport early the next morning.

Frith didn’t say where he was flying to. He rarely did when Alejandro Valdezate Sánchez regularly drove him to Madrid Barajas international airport for one of his many business trips.

The next day, agents from the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia, the Spanish security service, came to Valdezate’s home to interview him. The conversation was calm and courteous, but one thing soon became clear to Valdezate: Frith wouldn’t be coming back. He never did.

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Breaking the Silence About Spying

The right to dissent against a government and its policies is an essential part of any democracy. But what happens when dissent crosses the line from mere criticism into active efforts to undermine a nation’s armed forces in their work against terrorists? Revelations about the activities of the Breaking the Silence group are illustrating that, in Israel, some left-wing activists may have abandoned any sense of obligation to either their fellow citizens or their right to self-defense.

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