Al-Jazeera has obtained a cache of hundreds of confidential “spy cables” from some of the world’s largest intelligence agencies, a prominent leak in what the media is calling “the largest intelligence leak since Snowden.”
Documents from Britain’s MI6 and Israel’s Mossad are included in the leak, alongside the Russian FSB, South African SSA, and the Australian ASIO. Documents pertaining to United States intelligence were not included. Al-Jazeera and the Guardian media agency’s have began publishing and promise they will provide “an unprecedented insight into operational dealings of the shadowy and highly politicised realm of global espionage,” throughout their time of reporting on the confidential spy file documents.
The confidential documents which date from 2006 to December 2014, will be redacted before publication, presumably for the safety of individuals agents involved. The Guardian, who has independently authenticated the documents, say the spy files reveal:
- The CIA attempted to establish contact with Hamas despite U.S. ban/listing them as a “terrorist organization.”
- South Korean intelligence targeted the leader of the Greenpeace organization.
- U.S. President Barack Obama “threatened” the Palestinian president to withdraw a bid for recognition of Palestine at the UN.
- South African intelligence agencies spied on Russia over a controversial $100M joint satellite deal.
- Israel’s true assessment of Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
- Details of operations against al-Qaida, Islamic State and other terrorist organizations.
- AN MI6 operation set to recruit a North Korean spy.
- Assassination threat of an African Union Leader.
The size of the leak, coming over 20 months after the U.S. whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who handed over tens of thousands of confidential NSA and GCHQ documents to journalists, highlights the increasing inability of intelligence agencies to keep secrets secure.
While the cache of Snowden documents revealed the technological surveillance of the world, the latest spy cable leak reveals espionage at “street level”, also referred to as human intelligence, or “humint” by intelligence agencies. Including surveillance reports, inter-agency information trading, disinformation, evidence of infiltration, theft and blackmail.
Though the source of the leaked documents remains unknown at the time, journalists speculate the leak originated from South Africa’s SSA agency, to add to that theory, the leak also includes “detailed briefings and internal analyses written by operatives of South Africa’s State Security Agency (SSA),” along with “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.”