Thirty-eighth edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

(Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2001 23:24:57 +0200)

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Intelligence news

Russia and its Southern neighbours

Since the establishment of the Russian Air Force in 1992, the defense ministry has made large cuts in air force manpower and aircraft and in the overall defense budget. The most recent of these reductions was in 1998 as a result of combining air and air defense forces. Over 30 air regiments were disbanded, leaving approximately 70 air regiments. The hardware from these disbanded units was either put into storage or distributed between the remaining units, allowing the Russians to remove more ailing aircraft from the active inventory. Moscow's effort to consolidate security in Central Asia is designed to legitimize Russian intervention and preserve Russia's lasting military presence on its southern periphery. Although Uzbek President Islam Karimov has stressed that the Central Asian states should exercise responsibility for their own security, Russian control is steadily increasing. Even Uzbekistan agreed to join the CIS Integrated Air Defense System in March. <source unknown>

Link-11 cracked by China ? published a very interesting article that states that China might have cracked the link-11 codes after the recent capture of a US Navy aircraft.

NewsMax states that Japanese defense officials informed the Pentagon that the Link-11 secure military communication system was compromised after a U.S. Navy plane was forced down. Japanese defense officials confirmed that Tokyo ordered its defense forces to change Link-11 codes after the EP-3E was captured.

The U.S. Navy EP-3E surveillance aircraft held by China is equipped with the most advanced version of the NATO Link-11 secure communication system. The Navy aircraft was forced to land on Hainan Island after a collision with a Chinese air force F-8 interceptor in April.

The EP-3E in question, aircraft PR-32, was equipped with the latest version of the NATO Link-11 system, code named "Story Book." Japanese officials are concerned that, even if the hard drives of the computers were magnetically wiped and the CD-ROM key disks were destroyed, there is still much the Chinese could learn.

According to the article, Chinese military engineers are already very familiar with the U.S. designed Link-11 communication system. The Chinese military employs a stolen version of the U.S.-made Link-11. The Link W system employed by the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is an unlicensed copy of the U.S. Navy Link-11.


The complete article and more interesting related stuff can be found on's pages. Be sure to visit them.

USSR spy base in London

The Russians had a large spy base in north London intercepting and decoding British radio communications from the end of the Second World War until the early 1950s. The site, at Whetstone, had been set up during the war, ostensibly to allow the official Soviet news agency Tass to monitor German news broadcasts. In fact the site which had a field full of aerials and a number of large buildings was mainly concerned with monitoring military and diplomatic communications. The revelation of the Soviet Cold War coup is contained in Richard J. Aldrich's book The Hidden Hand. Prof Aldrich says the agreement that allowed the site to be set up provided the staff with diplomatic immunity and did not fix a date for them to leave so they were able to remain in place well into the Cold War.

<source: Electronic Telegraph - 15/6/2001>

Does anyone has more detailed info and pictures of this site? Please let me know. -Ary-

South Africa

President Thabo Mbeki will get a special intelligence support unit which will ensure that he receives accurate, timely and relevant intelligence reports. Intelligence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu announced this on the 14th June. The unit will be part of the restructured intelligence ministry.

The Netherlands

After a two years delay, the Sperwer finally made its first five test flights over Holland. The Sperwer (Sparrow Hawk) is an unmanned spy plane. The Dutch army obtained 34 of these planes, that were built by French company Sagem.


Echelon still keeps a lot of people busy. 'Mainichi', a Japanese newspaper, says that an US-led spy network has intercepted Japanese diplomatic communications for 20 years to keep track of Tokyo's economic activities. The network used bases in New Zealand to monitor Japanese satellite communications.

Mainichi based its article on a book about the subject written in 1996 by a New Zealand author Nicky Hagar. The book is called 'Secret Power'. ISBN 0-908802-35-8.

I have read the book and found the information about New Zealand's intelligence more interesting than the Echelon stuff. It is the only book about New Zealand's intelligence that I have ever seen. Secret Power describes amongst others the various GCSB locations and how they were used for Echelon.

Soviet spy

A former US intelligence agent was recently convicted of spying for the Soviet Union during the Cold War. 74 years old George Trofimoff sold thousands secret US military documents to the KGB while he was chief of the US Army Joint Interrogation Center in Nuremberg, Germany, from 1969 to 1994.

Spy sniffers

During a speech at the launch of a spy exhibition in London, MI5's director general told the world that MI5 had plans in the 1970's to train gerbils to sniff out spies.

The rodents could be trained to detect a rise in adrenalin in the sweat of people under stress. MI5 wanted to use the gerbils during the interrogation of suspected spies.

The Canadian Mounties discovered the ability of the gerbils and Israel actually used them in Tel Aviv's airport. They had kept the animals in cages next to the security check areas. Fans blew the smell of the suspect towards the gerbils who were trained to press a lever if they detected rises in adrenalin.

The problem was however that they could not notice the difference between suspects and frightened passengers; that's why MI5 eventually dropped their plans.

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