The Spy Cables: A Glimpse into Espionage

A digital leak to Al Jazeera of hundreds of secret intelligence documents from the world's spy agencies has offered an unprecedented insight into operational dealings of the shadowy and highly politicized realm of global espionage.

Spanning a period from 2006 until December 2014, they include detailed briefings and internal analyses written by operatives of South Africa's State Security Agency (SSA). They also reveal the South Africans' secret correspondence with the US intelligence agency, the CIA, Britain's MI6, Israel's Mossad, Russia's FSB and Iran's operatives, as well as dozens of other services from Asia to the Middle East and Africa.

Among the revelations, the Spy Cables disclose are how: 
    Israel's Mossad told its allies that Iran was not working to produce nuclear weapons just a month after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned it was barely a year from being able to do so;
    The CIA made attempts to contact Hamas directly despite the US government listing the Palestinian group as a "terrorist organisation";
    Britain's MI6 sought South African help in an operation to recruit a North Korean official who had previously refused their cash; and South African and Ethiopian spies struggled to "neutralise" an assassination plot targeting a leading African diplomat.
The files unveil details of how, as the post-apartheid South African state grappled with the challenges of forging new security services, the country became vulnerable to foreign espionage and inundated with warnings related to the US "War on Terror".

Following the 9/11 attacks, South African spies were flooded with requests related to al-Qaeda, despite their own intelligence gathering and analysis telling them that they faced minimal direct threats from such groups, and that the main threat of violence on South African soil came from domestic far-right groups.

The South Africans' focus on Iran was largely a result of pressure from other nations, and the leaked documents also report in depth on alleged efforts by Iran to defeat international sanctions and even its use of Persian rug stores as front companies for spying activity. 

Unlike the Edward Snowden documents that focus on electronic signals intelligence, commonly referred to in intelligence circles as "SIGINT", the Spy Cables deal with human intelligence, or "HUMINT".

Rather than chronicling spy-movie style tales of ruthless efficiency of intelligence agencies, they offer an unprecedented glimpse into the daily working lives of people whose jobs are kept secret from the public.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/spy-cables-world-espionage-snowden-guardian-mi6-cia-ssa-mossad-iran-southafrica-leak-150218100147229.html

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