March 7, 2017

Wikileaks Reveals Massive CIA Cyber Spying Operation

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

“Year Zero” introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.

Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force — its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency’s hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities.

By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/

 

Wikileaks: CIA ‘Stole’ Russian Malware, Uses It to ‘Misdirect Attribution’ of Cyber Attacks

“Russian” hacking? It could have just as easily been the CIA

From the Wikileaks “Year Zero” dump:

The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch‘s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.

With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.

UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques.

Everyone knew it. Now we have proof.

“Fingerprints” are meaningless.

http://russia-insider.com/en/wikileaks-cia-stole-russian-malware-uses-it-misdirect-attribution-cyber-attacks/ri19134

Malaysia foils ‘Yemeni attack on Arab royals’

Malaysian police say they have foiled a planned attack on Arab royals by suspected militants from Yemen.

Four Yemenis and three other suspects including a Malaysian and an Indonesian were arrested ahead of Saudi King Salman’s arrival in Kuala Lumpur.

The monarch is currently touring Asia with 25 princes in his entourage.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a military coalition against the Houthi insurgent group in Yemen for the last two years.

However, it is unclear what group – if any – the Yemeni nationals were aligned with.

A senior police source told news agency Reuters the four were believed to be Houthi insurgents. However, other sources say the suspects were linked to so-called Islamic State.

It is also unclear whether the other three arrested were part of the same group.

The seven suspects were arrested between 21 and 26 February – the day King Salman arrived in the Malaysian capital.

National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar told journalists the group were “planning to attack the Arab royalties during the visit in Kuala Lumpur”.

“We got them in the nick of time,” he said.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39193173

Kim Jong-un takes Malaysians ‘hostage’ and bans anyone from the country from leaving North Korea after Kuala Lumpur embassy is sealed off in hunt for assassins

  • Pyongyang banned Malaysians from leaving North Korea in escalating dispute
  • Measure imposed to ensure ‘safety of the diplomats and citizens’ of North Korea
  • Malaysia responded by closing its borders to North Koreans wanting to leave
  • Tit-for-tat measures are latest in escalating row over death of Kim Jong-nam

North Korea has banned all Malaysians from leaving the country in a dramatic escalation of the row over the death of Kim Jong-Un‘s half brother.

Malaysia likened the travel ban to hostage taking and then responded in kind, closing its borders to North Koreans who want to leave.

The tit-for-tat directives come as relations between the two countries disintegrate over the poisoning of Kim Jong Nam in a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on February 13.

Pyongyang’s extraordinary move came as it faced growing international condemnation for a volley of missiles it fired into the Sea of Japan, defying stringent global sanctions aimed at halting its weapons programme.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4288644/N-Korea-Malaysia-ban-citizens-leaving.html#ixzz4aeXhp2dK

 

Missile defense system that China opposes arrives in South Korea

  • THAAD is designed to take down North Korean missiles
  • China says it will take measure to preserve its interests

Seoul (CNN)The first pieces of a US-built missile defense system designed to mitigate the threat of North Korean missiles arrived at the Osan Air Base in South Korea Monday night, according to the US military.

The announcement comes just a day after North Korea test-fired four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.
China has voiced opposition to the proposed placement of the military hardware known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which it sees as a threat to its own security.
“We will firmly take necessary measures to preserve our own security interest, and the US and South Korea must bear the potential consequences,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday.

North Korea is ‘training for an attack on US bases in Japan’: Kim Jong Un is pictured applauding missile launch as Trump warns him of ‘dire consequences’ and sends anti-missile system to the South

  • North Korea said Tuesday its missile launches were training for a strike on US bases in Japan
  • Three of four missiles shot landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone
  • The US has also begun deploying a missile defense system in South Korea to protect against North Korea
  • China said such US interference poses a ‘clear, present and substantive threat to China’s security interests’
  • The UN Security Council will have an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss these developments
  • Donald Trump and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe say North Korea threat has ‘entered a new stage’

Nuclear-armed North Korea said Tuesday its missile launches were training for a strike on US bases in Japan, as President Trump warned Kim Jong-Un of ‘dire consequences’ and deployed missiles to South Korea.

The latest declaration from Pyongyang comes the day after it launched four ballistic missiles 600 miles into the Sea of Japan, in an alarming show of strength.

On Tuesday, the regime also released pictures of King Jong-Un watching the launch of the missiles and applauding with a wild grin on his face.

Three of the four missiles fired Monday came down provocatively close to US ally Japan, in waters that are part of its exclusive economic zone, representing a challenge to US President Donald Trump.

In a phone call, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that the threat from North Korea had ‘entered a new stage.’

Meanwhile, Washington and Seoul have agreed to deploy a US missile defense system called THAAD to South Korea, which has infuriated China, the North’s key diplomatic ally and crucial to efforts to persuade it to change its ways.

 North Korea news sources showed the country's leader, Kim Jong-Un, smiling and clapping as the nuclear-armed nation launched three missiles in training for a strike on US bases in Japan

 North Korea news sources showed the country’s leader, Kim Jong-Un, smiling and clapping as the nuclear-armed nation launched three missiles in training for a strike on US bases in Japan

The missiles were launched by the North Korean military

North Korea sources said the missiles were preparation for a strike on Japan

Three of the four missiles fired Monday, pictured, came down provocatively close to US ally Japan, in waters that are part of its exclusive economic zone, representing a challenge to US President Donald Trump

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4288400/North-Korea-training-attack-bases-Japan.html#ixzz4ae0CT4yj

China’s ZTE to plead guilty, settle with U.S. over Iran, North Korea sales

March 7 at 3:50 PM
Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE will plead guilty and pay $892 million to settle allegations it violated U.S. laws that restrict the sale of American-made technology to Iran and North Korea, the company and U.S. government agencies said Tuesday.

ZTE entered into an agreement to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, obstruction of justice and making a material false statement, the Justice Department said.

The settlement was made with Justice, the Commerce Department and the Treasury Department.

The Commerce Department investigation followed reports by Reuters in 2012 that ZTE had signed contracts to ship millions of dollars’ worth of hardware and software from some of the best-known U.S. technology companies to Iran’s largest telecommunications carrier.

“ZTE acknowledges the mistakes it made, takes responsibility for them, and remains committed to positive change in the company,” Zhao Xianming, ZTE’s chairman and chief executive, said Tuesday in a statement.

Between January 2010 and January 2016, ZTE directly or indirectly shipped U.S.-origin items worth approximately $32 million to Iran without obtaining the proper export licenses from the U.S. government. ZTE then lied to federal investigators, insisting that the shipments had stopped, the Justice Department said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/chinas-zte-pleads-guilty-settles-with-us-over-iran-north-korea-sales/2017/03/07/16a0b2c2-0356-11e7-ad5b-d22680e18d10_story.html?utm_term=.b797bf1c04e9

H.R. McMaster, top Trump security adviser, faces questions in rare hearing

– Associated Press 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The senior Army officer tapped by President Donald Trump to be his national security adviser faces questions from senators during a rare closed-door meeting amid intense scrutiny of the White House for alleged Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s appearance before the Armed Services Committee, slated for Tuesday, is unusual because national security advisers aren’t subject to Senate confirmation and typically don’t testify on Capitol Hill. But McMaster’s situation is different. He elected to stay on active duty rather than retire from the military and generals of his grade need the chamber’s approval when they’re promoted or get new assignments.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the committee’s Republican chairman, said members will vote at the end of session on whether to recommend to the full Senate that McMaster retain his three-star rank.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/7/top-trump-security-adviser-faces-questions-in-rare/

US, Russian, Turkish military chiefs meet in Antalya to discuss Syria, Iraq (PHOTOS)

US, Russian, Turkish military chiefs meet in Antalya to discuss Syria, Iraq (PHOTOS)
Turkey’s military chief of staff, General Hulusi Akar, is hosting a meeting with the heads of the US and Russian armed forces in the southern Turkish province of Antalya, according to Ankara and Moscow.

The meeting is being attended by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford Jr., Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia Valery Gerasimov and Turkey’s military chief of staff General Hulusi Akar.

https://www.rt.com/news/379687-russia-us-turkey-meet-syria/

Russian general hit by roadside bomb in Syria loses both legs

Russian Major General Pyotr Milyukhin lost both his legs and an eye when a radio controlled bomb hit a military convoy heading from the Tiyas airfield, west of Palmyra, to the Syrian city of Homs, it has been confirmed.

Milyukhin is in an intensive care unit at Russia’s Main Military Clinical Hospital, medical officials confirmed to RIA Novosti on Friday.

The hospital refused to disclose any details, but said that the high-ranking officer had been placed “in the 56th department.”

The incident occurred in mid-February, Kommersant daily reported, citing sources. Four of the six people traveling in the armored vehicle along with Milyukhin reportedly lost their lives.

https://www.rt.com/news/379597-russian-general-bomb-legs/

A Russian contract soldier died near Palmyra on March 2, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Monday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that the soldier was killed during a terrorist offensive on Syrian army’s positions, where Russian military advisers were present.

“Artem Gorbunov died on March 2 near Palmyra when repelling Daesh terrorists’ attempts to advance on the positions of Syrian [government] troops, where Russian military advisers were present.”

The soldier was posthumously awarded. Earlier in the day, Gorbunov was buried at a cemetery in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.

According to the Defense Ministry, 28 Russian servicemen have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the anti-terrorist operation.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201703061051314615-russia-serviceman-dies-syria/

2,100 Iranian fighters said killed in Iraq, Syria

Figure doubles earlier death count from November, which only included Syria fighting

More than 2,000 fighters sent from Iran have been killed in Iraq and Syria, the head of Iran’s veterans’ affairs office said Tuesday.

“Some 2,100 martyrs have been martyred so far in Iraq or other places defending the holy mausoleums,” Mohammad Ali Shahidi told the state-run IRNA news agency.

Shahidi, who is head of Iran’s Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, was speaking at a conference on martyrdom culture in Tehran.

The figure was more than double the number he gave in November, which referred only to Syria.

Iran is, with Russia, the main military backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and also organizes militias fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq.

Shahidi did not provide details on the nationalities of those killed.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/2100-iran-fighters-said-killed-in-iraq-syria/

War, Violence Cost Iraq $36 Billion

Baghdad- A report released by Iraq’s ministry of planning revealed the disastrous damage done by the gruesome acts of violence and aggression throughout 2004-2016 of fighting terror group ISIS.

Overall infrastructure damage, save for that inflicted on the Iraqi Kurdistan region, has been accounted for by the report. Losses suffered by civilians and their assets, and those registered through local corruption and embezzlement were excluded from the report.

Destruction cited by the report amounted to $36 billion.

All the more, Iraq’s culture ministry said that it was unable to estimate the value of stolen effects belonging to the national body responsible for antiquities and heritage.

http://english.aawsat.com/2017/03/article55368850/war-violence-cost-iraq-36-billion

The multipurpose indigenously-designed and -manufactured Iranian helicopter Saba 248
The multipurpose indigenously-designed and -manufactured Iranian helicopter Saba 248

Iran has unveiled a new utility helicopter capable of serving both military and civilian purposes.

The ceremony to unveil the helicopter, named Saba 248, took place in the presence of Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan on Tuesday.

Iran’s Helicopter Renovation and Logistics Company (PANHA), associated with the Defense Ministry’s Aviation Industries Organization, has designed and manufactured the aircraft.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/07/513357/Iran-Saba-248-helicopter-Dehqan

Trump, Netanyahu Discuss Iran, Anti-Semitism in Call

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a long telephone conversation Monday about strategic threats posed by Iran.

“The two leaders spoke at length about the dangers arising from the nuclear deal with Iran and Iranian aggression in the [Middle East] region and the need to work together to deal with those dangers,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Netanyahu has been a vocal opponent of the nuclear deal signed between Iran and major world powers that went into effect in January. The Israeli leader has said the deal does not go far enough and when some of the clauses of the deal expire in 10 and 15 years, it will leave Tehran on the threshold of building a bomb.

The president had told Netanyahu when the two met at the White House last month that the nuclear agreement was “one of the worst deals” he had ever seen.

http://www.voanews.com/a/trump-netanyahu-discuss-iran-antisemitism-in-call/3752545.html

Iran setting up shell shipping companies to export weapons and illicit goods: investigation

Nearly half of all shipping docks in Iran are operated by the regime’s military, and it is using shell companies to smuggle weapons and other illicit goods, according to a new report.

A total of 90 docks have been taken over by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which is using them to circumvent sanctions and fund terrorist activities in the Middle East and beyond, according to the anti-regime People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

“Based on the direct order of the current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, no authority is allowed to oversee the activities of the IRGC at border areas, be it on the ground, sea or air, and it can import anything in any quantity without paying any customs fee,” PMOI officials said in a statement provided to Fox News. “The IRGC uses these docks for its unlawful activities.”

The PMOI adds that in order to fund its activities, the Revolutionary Guard engages in smuggling oil, gas, chemical products, cigarettes, narcotics, alcohol, mobile phones, pharmaceuticals, hygiene material and energy drugs and supplements.

The importing and exporting of these illicit goods has allowed the IRGC to net $12 billion annually, the group estimates.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/07/iran-setting-up-shell-shipping-companies-to-export-weapons-and-illicit-goods-investigation.html

 

Iran vs Russia: The Next Natural Gas War

Not everybody attending the Iranian natural gas summit last week in Frankfurt was there for the same reason.

While most were gauging the prospects for an opening of major natural gas reserves and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export prospects, others were there for quite different reasons.

Take the three representatives from Russia’s gas giant Gazprom (OGZPY), for example. They weren’t there to scout new investment packages. On the contrary… They were there to see just how badly their company’s position was under siege.

And it’s no wonder the Gazprom guys looked concerned. From what I saw at the summit, they have every reason to be.

For energy investors, on the other hand, the news is very good…

Gazprom is in Dire Straits

Gazprom may still be the largest natural gas company on the face of the Earth, exporting more gas than anybody else and providing revenues that account for the biggest single chunk of the Russian central budget… But it is facing down some difficult times.

For one, extractions are declining at the primary mature fields the company has depended on for decades. To offset that growing problem, Gazprom needs to move into three very expensive new regions – above the Arctic Circle, onto the continental shelf, and into eastern Siberia.

Moscow is hard pressed to provide the necessary funds for that.

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/Iran-vs-Russia-The-Next-Natural-Gas-War.html

Iran’s Crude-Oil Exports Increase to Level Last Seen in 1970s

Iran’s crude-oil exports touched 3 million barrels a day for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

That level, lasting just one day, was reached in the current Iranian month that began Feb. 19, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said, according to state news agency IRNA.

The Islamic Republic’s exports tumbled in 2011 as international sanctions targeted its oil industry, cutting production. Since restrictions ended in January 2016, Iran has recovered quickly, raising output near pre-sanctions levels of about 4 million barrels a day. It’s targeting 5 million a day by 2021 with the help of foreign investors, though none has yet signed a definitive contract.

Iran’s crude exports have averaged 2.45 million barrels a day since Feb. 19, Bloomberg tanker-tracking data show.

The country in November won an exemption from output cuts agreed on by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, saying it was still recovering from sanctions. Production exceeded 6 million barrels a day in the 1970s, before the Islamic Revolution drove away Western investors and prompted a long confrontation with the U.S.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-07/iran-s-crude-oil-exports-increase-to-level-last-seen-in-1970s

Iran Tests New Weapons in Yemen

This was revealed by the Houthi Supreme Political Council (SPS) at the end of last month.

Abd al-Malik al-Houthi, leader of the Houthis in Yemen, said, on February 10, that the Houthis had been able to increase the range and accuracy of their weapons and could now launch attacks on Saudi Arabia, the leader of the coalition forces which are fighting the Houthis in Yemen.

The coalition forces have also intercepted drones with missile firing capabilities that bore Iranian markers.

In January, the Saudi frigate Al-Madinah which was near the Yemeni port of Hudeida was attacked by an unmanned and guided boat, according to Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan, U.S. Fifth Fleet commander.

Later reports from the U.S. Naval Institute indicated that the naval craft was provided by the navy of the IRGC.

IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, wrote: “Such vessels pose a new threat to civilian maritime traffic, open a new page in the clashes between Iran and Saudi Arabia in this sensitive arena, and could reach other Iranian-supported terror organizations in the world.”

http://www.iranfocus.com/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31340:iran-tests-new-weapons-in-yemen&catid=9:terrorism&Itemid=114

Iran, Italy to hold scientific coop. meeting

TEHRAN, Mar. 07 (MNA) – Iran and Italy will organize the first ever meeting on joint scientific, technological and innovative cooperation in mid-April, deputy head of research at Science Ministry said on Tuesday.

 

According to Vahid Ahmadi, the meeting aims at providing new opportunities for universities, educational institutions, research centers, Technology and knowledge-based companies based at science and technology parks in Iran and Italy.

Other objectives of the meeting include development of connections among research centers and Hi Tech companies for promotion of technology transfer of products, services and innovation capacities; promoting the top scientific and technological trends in both countries through further bilateral dialogues among organizations as well as supporting cooperation in the fields of research, commercialization and development of innovation.

Iran-Italy’s joint meeting on scientific cooperation is slated for 19-20 April 2017 in Tehran.

http://en.mehrnews.com/news/124070/Iran-Italy-to-hold-scientific-coop-meeting

Germany delays contract with MBDA for missile defence system-sources

Germany’s defence ministry on Tuesday told lawmakers that it would not complete a contract for a multi-billion euro new missile defence system with European arms maker MBDA during the current legislative period, as planned, ministry sources said.

Ministry officials remain committed to concluding a contract with MBDA for the Medium Extended Air Defence System that will replace the current Patriot air and missile defence system, but said there was still work to do on MBDA proposal, as well as how the overall project would be managed, the sources said.

Regardless of the MEADS outcome, the ministry also plans to spend several hundred million euros to modernise the software and hardware of the German military’s existing Patriot system, which was built by Raytheon Co, the sources said.

The delay in the MEADS project marks another setback for Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who has sought to reform Germany’s troubled weapons procurement process since taking office in late 2013. A second multi-billion euro programme to build a new multi-role ship has also been delayed.

 

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-germany-delays-contract-with-mbda-for-missile-defence-system-sources-2345107

Conservative Fillon wins ‘unanimous’ support from party leadership

Latest update : 2017-03-07

France’s embattled presidential hopeful Francois Fillon on Monday won “unanimous” support from his Republicans party, putting him firmly back in the driver’s seat after veteran conservative Alain Juppe rejected calls to stand in his place.

“The political committee, after a wide-ranging exchange, unanimously renewed its support for Francois Fillon,” Senate speaker Gerard Larcher told reporters after around 20 party seniors met to “evaluate” the crisis sparked by the fake jobs scandal clouding Fillon’s campaign.

Fillon, 63, had told the meeting that Juppe‘s definitive decision not to run “confirmed that there isn’t a plan B” to his candidacy, according to a text of his remarks sent to AFP.

With just seven weeks to go before the country goes to the polls in a two-stage vote, Fillon said: “We have lost too much time with vain debates, leaving the way open for the far right and candidates on the left who are rubbing their hands over our disunity.”

EU army moves step closer: Ministers APPROVE Brussels defence headquarters

THE EU army came one step closer today after ministers approved plans for a military command centre based in Brussels.

states agreed to open a command centre to run military training missions abroad, a step France and Italy hope is a precursor to an EU defence headquarters in the face of a growing Russian threat.Foreign and defence ministers approved the Brussels-based command, which will be run by some 30 people when it is launched in the next few weeks.

Britain has long opposed the crumbling bloc’s plans for its own army with fears the defence force could undermine operations.

The EU is seeking to match its economic might with an ability to deter militant or Russian threats, as well as using peacekeepers to stabilise failing states on EU borders.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/775843/eu-army-ministers-approve-brussels-defence-command-centre

Pentagon: U.S. airstrike in Yemen killed ex-Guantánamo detainee

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