Samstag, 14. April 2018

Crispy CRISPR...

...or: The rise of Frankenstein's Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats

Discussing this with a few people from the counterproliferation branch I recognized that I have to learn something new regarding Weapons of Mass destruction (WMD): Who knows anything about CRISPR? But a lot more people read about Genetic Engineering - which is a good starter to understand CRISPR -  and I remember a case, many years ago, when a North Korean scientist disappeared in Australia. He was suspected of having developed a weapon based on genetic experiments. This case is still shrouded in secrecy and rumours, but it was one of the first cases ever appeared in the public. I plan to write a brief paper about it in the near future.

Genetic Engineering was already in the seventies subject of e.g. a meeting about INFORMAL MEETINGS ON NEW MASS DESTRUCTION WEAPONS:

Combining various search operators - which include CRISPR and WMD - I was surprised by my own data I obviously stored without ever taking special account of it: Related to WMD: 112, related to DPRK: 46, related to North Korea: 79, China: 166, Pakistan: 75, Iran: 88 and finally related to Germany: 115 results. Obviously due to the (unclassified) Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community of 2016 some people, responsible for the commissioning of intelligence operations, becoming nervous and start reading in Wikipedia about CRISPR. Beside other things Clapper and his guys wrote in the chapter "WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION AND PROLIFERATION" the following:

"Biological and chemical materials and technologies, almost always dual use, move easily in the globalized economy, as do personnel with the scientific expertise to design and use them.The latest discoveries in the life sciences also diffuse rapidly around the globe." 

Around the globe... I think here about two things: First the warning of the Director of the German Federal Domestic Intelligence Agency (BfV) about the danger of Chinese companies, buying out German companies. And second about the rising German CRISPR market and some companies which are involved in the research: Bayer, Merck and Co., Evotec or CureVac - to mention some names. Are they aware of Chinese students and scientists, working in the laboratories? Are they already in the focus of hostile intelligence agencies? Not to talk about our "friends" from France, Israel or the US...

It is a revealing thing to do: Combing through directories of North Korean pharmaceutical institutes and their journals to see their discreet but prolific cooperation with the outside world. But this is another story...

Dienstag, 6. März 2018

Syria, SSRC, NOSSTIA and North Korea

In the last days a lot of media reports referred to a UN Report not published yet, describing that "North Korea has been sending equipment to Syria that could be used to make chemical weapons". In a few reports one responsible Syrian institution is mentioned: The Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC). Hundreds of people working for this Center are sanctioned since last April 2017.

Interesting for me is that organisations which are connected to this Center and which are playing a crucial role, are not sanctioned. First of all I think about the Network of Syrian Scientists, Technologists and Innovators Abroad (NOSSTIA), which is working somehow under the radar. I came across a brief notice about a meeting on "environment projects", which was described by the Syrian Arab News Agency in April 2016.

This was the first time ever I read about NOSSTIA and so I tried to take a look at their website. Today they seem to operate two Facebook accounts which I will not examine here in depth. Both accounts offer contact details, pictures etc.

 And the other one:

 In former times they had a website which is offline since a while. The old contact details (August 2015) there are slightly different:

But reading their old statements and going through their once uploaded documents and journals one could get the impression of an organisation which is - due to their mandate and self-concept - operating worldwide: Just there where Syrian patriots are.

This reminds me not only on similar Chinese organisations  - which are also engaged in espionage and intelligence gathering. It sounds for me like a not so hidden agenda, especially today, focusing on collecting information, intelligence, data, contacts etc. Harvesting all the documents where NOSSTIA is involved in, analysing the metadata and going through different social media networks provides an small insight into Syrian efforts to come through their doubtlessly hard times.

People and institutions had (or have?) the chance to donate money and receiving a special sponsor status. No Platinum and Gold Sponsors, but Silver (which meant in August 2015: 25,000 Syrian Pounds ($5,000 USD)):

And finally, nearly invisible:

Due to my interest in thrilling newspaper I took a look into this example of investigative journalism:

On page 2 I found Omar Armanazi, named in the aformentioned meeting. This time (2002) he met members of a highranking DPRK delegation in Syria:

I didn't do a lot to go deeper into those connections but as we all know: scientific exchange can be misused and political systems under pressure, suffering from sanctions or war will use every opportunity to improve their situation.

Mittwoch, 21. Februar 2018

Shady business behind CPEC

The last months a lot of paper about the CPEC were produced - regarding the Chinese political-economic agenda in South East Asia. Beside the official and more or less transparent economic relations between both countries Jens Rosenke and me are, as always, more interested in the shady corners of economic projects, especially when it comes to sanctioned or in general security related technology.

Therefore we worked a while on a paper, which is mainly about the research in proliferation and illegal procurement issues.

But of course we also found a lot of smaller and bigger entities somehow connected in interesting ways and sometimes busy in disguising their intentions.

The good thing is: "Investigating proliferation activities between China and Pakistan" is free for download!

Recently, I had put a part of my archive online as a searchable version, where one can find also various entries on proliferation, China or Pakistan. The paper, which is now available for download on my website, could only be produced due to Jens Rosenke's knowledge of military details and his ability to find and read hidden original Chinese documents.

Sonntag, 18. Februar 2018

Another boring Reichsbürger...

... can look for a T-Shirt here:

One can also buy it as a "Braunhemd" which means here a brown coloured T-Shirt:

Who is behind Abarcshop?

But this time no Chinese company, but a German contact:


Donnerstag, 25. Januar 2018

Reichsbürger Hoodie

Funny to see: Since months one can read about the so-called Reichsbürger movement, sometimes about really alarming incidents, e.g. German anti-terror police uncover hidden paramilitary training camps for far-right extremists.

But there are always smart people who see the opportunity:

I found this on 25th January 2018 and it doesn't look like fake:

Everything is possible and I remember the Hitler-cups sold in Germany by the Chinese in 2014. So I took a brief look into this company. The section "Über uns" ( "About us") is in pretty horrible German, looks like a foreign background. There we go:

It's so obvious: China doesn't like political uproar in it's own country, but it doesn't care for others: The registrar is which is a Chinese company, you can call them and complain about double standards:

Freitag, 19. Januar 2018

The name Abbas Kamel...

...reminds me of something... Reading that the Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a presidential decree on Thursday afternoon appointing his office director General Abbas Kamel as acting director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate let me think about the past.

I wonder if the Abbas Kamel mentioned in an unclassified cable about IRAQI MEDIA OUTLETS BASED IN JORDAN: PROFILES is the one who is now the acting director of the Mukhabarat:

In 2015 my old friend Nizar Manek wrote - together with Jeremy Hodge - an excellent paper about Opening the black  box of Egypt's slush funds and there Abbas Kamel appeared again. Nizar wrote:

So Abbas Kamel, who is named by Intelligence Online  the eminence grise of Egyptian President, is somehow famous. It is obvious that a few people getting bad-tempered about this.

Montag, 1. Januar 2018

The North Korean lifeline... also maintained by vessels, but obviously it is not so easy to detect every single entity. Actually it is reported that South Korean authorities have seized a Panama-flagged vessel suspected of transferring oil products to North Korea. The vessel named KOTI is the former SEMUA SEJATI. The IMO number of a vessel remains linked to the hull for its lifetime, regardless of a change in name, flag, or owner. Due to the ongoing reflagging and renaming of vessels one must look for the shipping company, the owner etc. In this case owner and manager of the KOTI resp. the SEMUA SEJATI in former times was SEMUA SHIPPING in Malaysia. This is a company with a rich history of details, documents, addresses etc.

Information: I do not suggest that any of the companies, agencies and persons I mention in this Post are engaged in illicit activity.

SEMUA SHIPPING is a subsidiary of Hoe Leong Corporation Ltd., a company holding stake in various industries and which already gained experience in the difficulties doing business with shipping. The wind for SEMUA SHIPPING sesms not to be friendly in these days. And various industry newsletters and media reports are confusing, because some other entities - subsidiaries and owners - are mentioned and somehow connected. Bloombergs says, that "Semua Shipping Sdn Bhd owns and operates a fleet of oil and chemical tankers, as well as tugs and barges. It serves oil companies. The company was incorporated in 1980 and is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Semua Shipping Sdn Bhd operates as a subsidiary of Semua International Sdn. Bhd." Bloomberg also says, that "Semua International Sdn. Bhd. is an investment holding company which through its subsidiaries provides oil tanker and transport logistic services. The company is based in Malaysia. Semua International Sdn. Bhd. operates as a subsidiary of Sumatec Resources Berhad." Regarding The Star Online Sumatec is "the company, which manages and oversees the production operations of an oil and gas field in Kazakhstan, told Bursa Malaysia that the order for the winding up of Semado, a subsidiary of shipping firm Semua International Sdn Bhd in which the company has 49% stake, was given on April 13.Sumatec said it did not control the associate company and its subsidiaries. “The winding up order was only found out by the company’s own initiatives on May 15, 2017,” it said."

At the moment it seems that SEMUA SHIPPING owns those vessels:

The last two of them listed above are sailing actually under another name: The former SEMUA SELAMAT sails now under the name ES ASPIRE, currently on the way to Pontianak in Indonesia. The other one - LADY ASTRID - is now LISSE, sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands.Regarding the last report (Jan 01, 2018 21:35 UTC) the LISSE is anchored in the Russian port of Novorossiyk. Years ago food aid was shipped by the Russia's state-owned United Grain Company via this port to North Korea. Compared to North Korean interests Novorossiyk is an interesting location: 2004 a truck with a 30 kg box of radioactive americium arrived at this port.Various media reports describe the shipment of weapons from Novorossiyk to Tartous, which is Russia's military facility in Syria. One vessel shipped on behalf of Almar Shipping, the company which transported weapons from the Ukraine to South Sudan. And Novorossiyk is also mentioned in a statement from OFAC, which has "designating four companies because they materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of,OJSC Sovfracht, which was previously designated under E.O. 13685 for being owned or controlled by an entity operating in Crimea", here the fuel supplier Solid Ltd., located at ul Mira 4,Novorossiysk, Krasnodarskiy kray, 630024, RU.

Also interesting in this story are the Marshall Islands, mentioned by the US State Department as a country/jurisdiction of Primary Concern. Obviously for good reasons: In 2016 NK Pro titled Mongolia enforces latest sanctions on North Korean ships and mentioned the Dawnlight, a ship which is "blacklisted by the UN, the U.S. and was previously owned by a Singaporean company which helped North Korea smuggle weapons. According to the Equasis Maritime Database, it ended up in the hands of Sinotug Shipping, a company in the Marshall Islands with a limited footprint."

The here mentioned events might be totally irrelevant, but it is necessary to go to those shady places where rogue states as North Korea are finding the things they need or they want to sell. Novorossiyk definitely belongs to this category and who knows what kind of cargo will be loaded or exchanged there between the anchored ships.