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01 September 2013


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The beaver

Uh, Huh


"Although, we are among the Syrian government's opposition forces, we assume our homeland's interests to be more important than any other interest and therefore, we have formed a number of battalions to conduct suicide operations and target the US interests in the Middle-East," Secretary-General of al-Shabab Party Mahir Marhaj told FNA on Saturday.

He blasted the US and its allies' warmongering policies and threats, and said, "We in al-Shabab party are highly prepared to confront any war against Syria."

Nationalism at play ?


Troodos is the site of a British SIGINT station on Cyprus?


For those of us not in the intelligence business - If Mossad fabricated the intercepts wouldn't someone in our intelligence services know it and wouldn't it have leaked by now? I do think this is a possible scenario but I'm not sure why those in our intelligence community would keep it quiet.

Also, do military units still use land lines as a sole means of transmission? It seems to me they would be fairly easy to disrupt by any side in an urban conflict.



That is what the linked article says. pl


Mr. Putin is asking to see the 'evidence':




Land lines are still used because they are hard to intercept unless you can get a tap on the line. It is not necessarily a question of fabrication. SIGINT intercepts are often ambiguous in their meaning. People often see in them what they wish to see. pl


Indeed. When the KAL flight was shot down by the Soviet interceptors during President Reagan's term, the recording of the radio intercepts between the fighters and their command was played back in the Security Council of the UN.

All of this hugger mugger about the supposed Israeli intercepts, and the refusal to produce the evidence in the same forum? Well, it speaks for itself, doesn't it. I call BS on the whole, manufactured steaming pile. Even if the chemical weapons release was not, from top to bottom a deliberately engineered false flag event, the caginess concerning the signals intelligence that supposedly was gathered speaks volumes. Don't talk to me about giving away methods of intelligence gathering when something was supposedly picked out of the ether that is so-o-o irrefutably damning that people will die over it, and dire consequences may flow from it in future, and then refuse to come clean over what the content of this signals intelligence actually was.

Let the world hear it, and judge it for whether or not it is indicative of what it is said to prove. Congress, larded as it is with knee-jerk Israeli supporters, is not a sufficiently objective or skeptical audience to make decisions authorizing aggressive war-making powers.


Oh there are lots of points among an decision map that you sideline a perspective view/position. You employ the word "know" in your post GCP...but I would argue that "know" is a very tricky determination to make in intel work. "know" is a term of art here...not a mathematical or biological finding. So you don't have to "keep it quiet"...you simply have to keep it ambiguous. Then you leave it to the media to keep quiet because the info is "ambiguous" and saying something like 'Israel made it up' could be, in certain cases, a career ending decision.

As to disrupting land lines... I am sure it is something that can be done...but I know this too...more landlines than one might guess at, were still working in Nazi Germany in the final days, hell, final hours, of the Berlin Battle. And they had a LOT of 'disruptions' in Berlin....years of them.


Much more information on the Craig Murray statements and involvement of the Troodos SigInt site in Marcy Wheeler's post this morning. The story keeps morphing with a number of surprising twists -- such as "Something else happened in the interim. The rebels complained that the US and UK had all this intelligence reflecting an impending attack but didn’t tell them." - See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/09/01/the-short-comings-of-pre-crime-intelligence/#more-37850


Maybe my brain is not fully engaged this morning after my early morning bike ride. I need something explained to me what is in Israel's long term interests in having a bunch of wild eyed Wahabi Sunnis running Syria? I understand the need to keep the pot boiling and keeping Iran out of your back yard, but sooner or later somebody is going to get the upper hand right now it looks like Assad. Maybe a break up of Syria I can see that as being in Israel's long term interests. Other than the Iran thing I can't make much sense out of Israel backing the rebels.

Neil Richardson


"...but I know this too...more landlines than one might guess at, were still working in Nazi Germany in the final days, hell, final hours, of the Berlin Battle. And they had a LOT of 'disruptions' in Berlin....years of them. "

And the Germans achieved surprise against SHAEF, 12th AG and especially the First Army before Wacht am Rhein in 1944. Although the Germans weren't sure of the extent of Ultra's success, they (especially Hitler) had some suspicion that Enigma might not have been as "unbreakable" as they'd believed back in 1939. Most communications were carried out via landlines or couriers. While the "victory disease" probably was the main reason for the surprise (the G-2 sections of the above formations did not believe the Germans had the ability to launch a major counteroffensive), Col. Koch (G-2 of the Third Army) had relied on OB analysis from prisoner interrogations as well as HUMINT to reach a completely different conclusion. He'd convinced Patton that there was a huge buildup of armored reserves in the Schnee Eifel. That led to the contingency planning for a potential 90 degree pivot even as the Third Army was starting its winter offensive into the Saar.


Express reports a leak from a "senior RAF officer" asserting that Brit sigint picked up a conversation in which a Syrian "regional commander" gave orders to an artillery captain to fire chemical shells. When the captain initially protested, he was threatened with execution.
The conversation was monitored and recorded by British officers based at the remote mountain-top RAF Troodos Signals Intelligence listening post in Cyprus and within minutes details of the conversation had been relayed to GCHQ, Whitehall and the Pentagon...
... Last night senior Ministry of Defence sources confirmed that the Prime Minister was aware of several intercepts that had been picked up by nuclear submarine HMS Tireless, by RAF spy planes and by the Troodos listening station but they said the messages were initially treated with “caution” by analysts, who feared they might be fakes “planted” by rebels desperate for Western military support....

The reporting suggests that the leak occurred after the British Parliament vote and before Obama announced that he would wait for a vote by Congress.

Article ends on some curious notes. Says the Parliamentary vote has caused British troops to withdraw from the hunt for leaders of "Al-Queda in the Arabian Peninsula" who have entered Syria and are directing particularly vicious rebel attacks. Also suggests a concern for chemical attacks on the Cyprus base.

One note, probably journalistic accident: The article implies but does not state specifically that the "regional commander" was from the Syrian Army.

Babak Makkinejad

Israelis correctly estimate that the tab will be picked up by the United States.


Nice summary Neil...yup, the Germans always surprised when it came to certain tech feats. They could also be very poor tech wise...equally surprising to me. See radar issues and anti sub warfare, among others.

I would not be underestimating anyone's capability to communicate...especially within interior lines....I might make a million other mistakes...but not that one.


I don't they are backing the "rebels"...I think they are backing anything that resembles chaos. For the moment, anyway. And anything that severs Iran's logistical capabilities. They will get to the rebels later, if and when they have to cross that 'bridge'.


If I may take a wild guess...take a hold of the greater Golan area and beyond a.k.a. buffer zone ...remove all antiquities (a la Iraq, etc.) liquidate all intellectuals...leave a morass of whacky tribal- wild eyed Wahabi Sunnis-infighting that needs to be culled periodically,thus developing new and improved weapons for the world to use to quell uppity natives. For a more eloquent analysis/vision please visit the Oded Yinon plan. I am sure the good Col. will destroy me if I am wrong



It seems strange that Cameron would accept such a humiliating defeat without revealing the truth. There are limits to the strictures of security. pl

David Habakkuk


It appears from the WSJ report of a few days back that Bandar has persuaded all kinds of people that if things are left in his capable hands, reliable 'moderate' Islamists will come out on top in Syria.

To am ignoramus about the Middle East, like myself, it becomes a bit difficult to work out precisely which Islamists Bandar likes and which he dislikes. And it becomes even more difficult to be clear as to the precise grounds he has for confidence that the strategies he recommends will ultimately empower the kind of 'moderate' Islamists we are supposed to like.

It seems however that quite a few people in Washington and London still see him as some kind of wonder worker.

As the old operetta song has it: 'If I am dreaming let me not be woken.'

Mark Logan

Syrian rebels might be capable of acquiring physical access to landlines, and not limiting themselves to listening, right?


From "smokes" excerpts above:

"but they said the messages were initially treated with “caution” by analysts, who feared they might be fakes “planted” by rebels desperate for Western military support...."

? How would the "rebels" have the sophisticated technological capability of planting fake conversations? That's right up there with the Israelis. Impressive.



All you need is a radio and the right frequencies. pl

Neil Richardson


And in Millennium Challenge 2002, LTG Van Riper had used couriers and IIRC the muezzins' call to prayer to communicate.


"... it becomes a bit difficult to work out precisely which Islamists Bandar likes and which he dislikes."

I can hear Prince Bandar now. "Oh that attack? Why my Islamists are not the Islamists you are looking for."


This would imply that the UK knows the name of the 'regional commander', the artillery unit, and its commander. Just how often do 'regional commanders" give firing instructions via radio to units in the field? I would think not that often and that whoever that unknown 'captain' was he would at least have some idea of just who's been on the radio talking to his unit over the past two years of war. A couple of my relatives played (or tried to) just such radio games with US Army units back in the '80s when they were on active duty. I can imagine the rebels have been having a go at that for a long time.

It also means that contrary to allot of other reports Syrian army artillery units have readily available chemical shells - containing Sarin - and a radio order - meaning nothing is in writing - is the type of order to be issued in authorizing their use. I find that awful hard to believe.


I agree with Andrew that the probable impetus for Israel's incitement of further rebel insurgency is the re-taking of the Golan. But please, let us drop such objectionable adjectives as 'wild-eyed,' lest we compromise our semi-unimpeachable objectivity.

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