From the editor
FROM THE EDITOR - MARK BIRDSALL
GHOSTS, SPIES AND EW WEAPONRY
"Everybody in the carriage had a very fortunate escape," a police officer told me. "The bomb was rubbish, but it still could have exploded - the impact being much greater because of the confined area." He had just attended the scene of an attempted bombing. An ISIS-supportive terror cell had deposited a rudimentary IED in a packed train carriage in an attempt to kill innocent passengers travelling into central London. The timing of the attack was calculated and callous, and there was a degree of planning - a timing device was used - attached to an initiator allowing the operative a few minutes grace to exit the train. Since then, the device has been compared to other IED's that have been used. Perhaps worrying also, the explosive, TATP (which can be manufactured with ease) and full instructions to build such bombs, can be found on the Internet - uploaded by ISIS 'media' people.
Six men were detained, though I suspect others will be investigated and interviewed by MI5 in future weeks. Eye Spy sources are fairly adamant some of the 'players' within the cell have links to or were directed by a roaming controller[s] based in Europe. Such characters, often well educated are dubbed 'Ghosts' by British Intelligence because of their anonymity. They are 'invisible' and operate throughout Europe from Norway in the north to Greece in the south. And whilst probably flagged on some security systems, they have been tasked (or have opted) to search out those who support the ideology of ISIS. It doesn't help also that many use alternative names and have various identification papers. In turn, this secondary network of men, will actively seek to engage, influence and ultimately recruit vulnerable people who are used as bomb mules or couriers, as in the London case. It does not surprise me in the least, that in the London case, young refugees from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan were selected. But of course, this does not excuse them for a moment, and let us hope the courts take a dim view of their actions and lock the 'delivery' men up for a long time.
However, analysing this case (and others) in the cold light of day, still means the so-called Ghosts have performed their task, and will, I am quite sure, already be probing the back streets of Brussels, Rome, Stockholm and elsewhere, for new helpers. Sadly this type of operation, is being performed almost daily in towns and cities in Syria and some parts of Iraq. Here ISIS have mastered the art of using bomb couriers (suicide members) to kill and injure Alliance troops and perform atrocities in packed marketplaces, using explosives and components which cost pennies to manufacture and assemble. The crucial key to such operations is convincing the courier, be they male or female (but usually youngsters or persons of low intelligence), that rewards await them and what they are doing is right. It's no wonder government officials, local authorities, psychologists (and others) have combined with intelligence people and military advisors to try and create programmes designed to educate. PREVENT is one such endeavour in the UK, and by no means perfect, it is a start.
Already secret meetings in Whitehall, London (and elsewhere) have taken place to try and evaluate the impact of returning ISIS fighters to Europe, North America and former Soviet satellite states - who are exiting the Iraq, Syrian and northern African theatres in their hundreds every month. Many are secreting themselves away within the 'convoys' carrying ordinary civilians fleeing these regions. And whilst arrests take place at airports and ports every week, MI5, for example, recognise (and acknowledge), that the security system cannot detain and question all of them. And once back home, it's likely many will feel bitter and continue to pose a clear and present danger. Similarly, it won't be too difficult a task for the ISIS Ghosts to track them down and begin plotting all over again.
To summarise, most leading British Government security officials, recognise the threat of terrorism and possibility of further attacks will remain for a generation, perhaps even longer. Thus it does not surprise me in the least, that operations to eliminate leading ISIS characters, (the CIA's UAV kinetic kill programme, for example) is secretly being duplicated by other organisations. Controversial? Yes, but officials believe these are the individuals who control and despatch the Ghosts of ISIS. There's a little more information on such actors in Eye Spy 111 - 'Ghosts of ISIS'.
Another ISIS attack method seen in recent months is TAV (Terrorist Attack by Vehicle) - the latest atrocity being committed in Barcelona. Eye Spy has a special feature on this incident and new counter-measures being deployed by the security services.
A world away from such disturbing activities, our editors have been keen to secure and analyse a number of fascinating case files which fall into the categories of espionage and subterfuge. There's a rumour circulating in Washington, that the Russians are using a new type of electronic warfare (EW) weapon targeting the homes of US Embassy diplomatic staffers based on the island of Cuba. Mass hysteria, an authentic directed sonic attack or just plain nonsense? Either way, around 20 people have reported or experienced a variety of illnesses associated to EW - and all have departed Cuba and returned home. For those looking for a simplistic description to downplay events, "emotional contagion" has been referenced. I'm not sure, and despite no physical equipment or data being collected by searching US intelligence people, the seriousness of the situation cannot be underestimated. Indeed, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has already warned that if 'attacks' continue, then the US may close its embassy. To recall, diplomatic relations were restored just two years ago after five decades of non-interaction and Cold War suspicion.
And keeping with audio, there has been much discussion in the media about a 'mysterious signal' or buzzer that has been operating in the 'wilderness of Russia' for decades. I happy to report Eye Spy 111 carries an investigative feature on both subjects, including an explanation of the latter case.
Eye Spy US Associate Editor Kevin Coleman, a renowned cyber specialist, returns with a most timely feature on the growing interest in the underworld currency of Bitcoins - dubbed a cryptocurrency. He provides ample proof that besides ordinary people and businesses using the 'virtual' money transaction platform, the intelligence world too are conducting covert payments to augment and fund espionage operations.
Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine 111 is packed with a plethora of intelligence-related case files, from current events such as the US Government decision to remove Kaspersky security software from its federal computer systems and Syrian WMD operations, to historical events where British intelligence people used some controversial methods to extract information from captured German WWII officers in a London complex called the London Cage.
We also have major analysis on North Korea's nuclear programme, and a tantalising feature examining the spy games played out by NK agents to source technology. President Trump recently called NK leader Kim Jong-un the "rocket man" but security specialists from the Pentagon and elsewhere, have already said that the situation is far from humorous and he represents a "grave threat to world peace."
There's also another 'A-Z - The Language of Spies' descriptions, terminology and slang drawn from our extensive library of meanings imparted by real intelligence people, many who still work in the 'field'.
A brief overview of Eye Spy 111 here....
Mark Birdsall - Editor