Archive for February, 2013

How to Make Homemade Deodorant

February 27, 2013

If we are ever faced with a TEOTWAWKI –(The End of the World as We Know It.) (Pronounced “Tee-ought-walk-ee) type situation, given that most people are far from prepared with hygienic items like deodorant — let alone food — the world is going to literally become a stinky place (you ever been in a packed bus in a third-world country? Not fun I tell ya, not fun).

Well, by storing a few extra items as part of your preps you’ll become the go-to guy (or gal) for those looking to manage their underarm issues.

Heck, I’m sure you’ll even get some sweet barter deals out of it, “Hey man, how bout we trade my ammo for your homemade deodorant? My wife won’t let me back in the house unless I fix this problem”.

How to Make Homemade Deodorant

What you’ll need

  • 6-8 Tbsp Coconut Oil (solid state)
  • 1/4 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Cup Corn Starch

Step-By-Step: Making your Homemade Deodorant

Step 1: Throw the coconut oil, baking soda, and corn starch in a bowl.

Step 2: Mix the ingredients together with a fork (this step is a lot easier if you warm up the “oil” until it becomes soft and mixes easily).

Step 3: Place your finished product in a jar for storage.

Putting Your Homemade Deodorant to Use

Since coconut oil begins to melt above 75°F, if you live in a warmer climate (or it’s Summer), it’s best to store it in a cooler area (like your fridge). If you have no choice but to keep it in an area above 75°F, you can still use it without issue — it’s just a bit more messy.

To use, simply dip a couple of finger tips into the homemade deodorant and apply to your underarms.

Some Observations

After using this, I have to say it’s quite effective both as an antiperspirant and deodorant.

The antiperspirant properties seem to come from the corn starch and the deodorant properties come from the baking soda and coconut oil (coconut oil is a natural antibacterial).

I’m a guy who sweats pretty easily and if I forget to use deodorant when I’m exercising or playing sports, well…let’s just say I feel bad for anyone having to block my jumpshot. But after using this I stay pretty dry and best of all, still smell great.

What I do notice with this is that it needs to be applied more often than you commercial variety (at least with me). If I have a very active day I’ll need to apply it more than just in the morning.

Resources

  • PassionateHomemaking.com  – I learned this great recipe from Lindsay over at PassionateHomemaking.com. She’s got some fantastic article so be sure to check them out.
  • Asonomagarden.wordpress.com – Here’s another recipe for homemade deodorant if you don’t want to use coconut oil (I haven’t tried this one).
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How to Make a Kydex Holster

February 27, 2013

Ever want to learn how to make your own custom kydex holster? Here’s how…

For you Kydex newbies, Kydex is basically an acrylic/PVC thermoplastic sheet that is frequently used as an alternative to leather in the production of firearm holsters and sheaths for knives.

The benefits of Kydex are that it is lightweight, thin, durable, and provides excellent retention for whatever application you use it for — be it sheaths, mag pouches, flashlights, or holsters.

Although Kydex holsters and mag pouches have been around for some time now, only in the recent decade do we see the competitive-shooting and military communities embracing them — and if you haven’t yet, I’d recommend you do too.

Given its many benefits, I figured I’d pass onto you how you can make your own custom Kydex gear.

Since making a Kydex holster is one of the more complicated of Kydex crafts, if you haven’t yet I’d highly recommend you first trying to make a Kydex mag pouch to better understand how to work with Kydex (you can see instructions by visiting the following link: how to make your own Kydex mag pouch. Once you’re comfortable with that, making a holster will not be much more difficult.

In this article, I’ll be taking you step by step through the process of making your own Kydex holster (an outside-the-waistband model)

Materials you’ll need


The list below contains all the basics you need to make some great Kydex holsters. Items with the * can be found at KnifeKits.com

  • *Kydex (I like to use .08 thickness)
  • Box cutters
  • Some type of measuring device
  • *Sheath foam (I purchased two 12×11.5×1 sheets)
  • *Rivets/Eyelits (I purchased a bunch of #8-8 1/4 inch size)
  • *Rivet flaring die and guide (I purchased the #8 die)
  • Some wood boards to sandwich the foam
  • Wood clamps
  • Marking tool (pencil)
  • Your pistol
  • A heat gun or good hair drier
  • Gloves to protect your hands from the heat
  • A drill with a 1/4″ bit
  • Optional: It helps to have a craft-board for easy measurements

How to make a Kydex holster

 

Step 1:

  1. Place the pistol on the sheet of Kydex that will be closest to the waistband.
  2. Leave around a 2-inch gap of kydex above the slide, a 1-inch gap in front of the muzzle, and no gap along the side of the handle.

Step 2: Score the Kydex with some box cutters and split it by hand along the score line
Step 3:

    1. Now, with the reduced dimensions, draw an outline of the pistol making sure to keep the 2-inch gap of kydex along the slide and the 1-inch gap in front of the muzzle.
    2. If you want the non-reflective dull side to be on the outside, be sure to draw the outline on the shiny side.
    3. Also, if you are wearing the pistol on your right-hand side, be sure to point the pistol grip to the right as shown in the picture:


Step 4:

    1. Next, draw out an area that is to be removed from the Kydex to allow access to the grip when you draw the pistol.
    2. Score and remove that area.


Step 5:

    1. Place the pistol on the sheet of Kydex that will be furthest away from the waistband and cut the dimensions similar to Step 1. In this outer half of the holster, you will not need to keep a grip guard (see second picture below):


Step 6:Prepare to form the Kydex by turning on your oven to about 220 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 7:

  1. Place both Kydex halves on a cookie sheet and place in the oven with the door partially open.
  2. I like to also lay the sheath foam between the oven door and the stove top to warm up the foam. Warming up the foam will help to create a more defined Kydex mold. If you keep the foam at room temperature, it will draw out the heat from the Kydex causing it to cool too fast which will prevent a nicely defined mold.

Step 8:

    1. With gloves on, every few minutes pick up the Kydex to determine if it’s soft and begins to bend.
    2. Once it begins to soften and bend, heat up the pistol with a hot hairdryer or heat gun (this also helps to create a defined mold).

Step 9:

  1. Once the Kydex is very flexible and floppy and the pistol is warm, remove one of the pieces of foam from the oven door and place it on one of the wood boards.
  2. Remove one half of the Kydex from the oven and place it on the foam (with the pencil outline facing up) and…
  3. Place the pistol on the hot Kydex (being sure to match up the pistol with the pencil outline you had made before)
  4. Finally, place the other warm piece of foam on the magazine and Kydex, followed by the other wood board.

Step 10:

  1. Clamp down the two halves of the boards over the foam like a sandwich. Be sure to securely clamp it down — the more pressure the more defined your final product will be.
  2. Let it sit in the foam press for around 15 min

Step 11: Repeat the process with the other piece of Kydex. Here’s what one of the halves will look like when taken out of the press:

Step 12:Draw a sketch of your holster design on both of the halves as follows and cut out the sections not part of the sketch.

Step 13: After cutting out the designs, place both halves together (with the pistol in the middle) ensuring that both sides are flush. Don’t worry if there are any overlapping sections, since these can be fixed later.

Step 14: Now that both halves are cut out, draw holes where you want the rivets to be.

Step 15: Now begin drilling out the holes that you drew in the previous step. Be sure to keep the magazine in-between the two halves to ensure proper alignment.

Step 16: Using the rivet die, begin installing the rivets (eyelits) where the holes are.

Step 17: After installing all of the rivets, you’ll probably notice that there are slight alignment issues between the two halves. To fix this, use a belt sander, file, or heavy sand paper and start sanding the edges so they even out and become aligned.

Step 18: The previous step will leave a rough finish on the edges. Now it’s time to clean them up using a fine grit sand paper.

Step 19: Viola! You now have an effective and beutiful Kydex holster! What I also did (as you can see in the pics below) is took a heat gun to the edges of the holster to bend them slightly in. This helps to mold it to the body better. In addition, don’t forget the belt loops. These are simply made by cutting strips of Kydex, heating them up and bending them into the shape you desire.

Resources

Still need more Kydex?! Here are some great resources for Kydex materials and how-tos:

Building a Debris Hut

February 27, 2013

If you were ever forced to bug out and survive in the middle of winter, knowing how to stay warm and dry in chilling rain or subfreezing temps is a must.

And what if you had to do that without bedding, fire, or a blanket. Would you still be able to stay warm and dry?

Since my brother was in town for the Thanksgiving holiday we decided to see how one of my favorite survival shelters — a debris hut — would fare on an overnight in some cold weather.

The evening we did the test was going to be in the low 20s (Fahrenheit) so it was a great night to test the shelter out: Will a debris hut keep me warm on subfreezing temps without the need of a fire or sleeping bag?

My results are at the end of this post.

But first, a little more about the debris hut and how you can build your own…

Debris Hut History

The basic purpose of a debris hut is to provide a cocoon of insulation and warmth — much like a sleeping bag.

I actually learned this shelter from its inventor, Tom Brown Jr. in one of his survival classes years ago and since that time I’ve had the opportunity to test it on multiple occasions in the Spring, Summer and Fall — comfortably sleeping without the need of a sleeping bag or a fire to stay warm and dry.

However, I’ve never tried this out in colder temps below freezing. So this cold-weather test is a long time coming for me.

The great advantage of this shelter over, say, a lean-to or other shelter is if built right, it doesn’t require you to have a sleeping bag, blanket, or a fire. It is built to be entirely self-sufficient as an insulator and shelter from the elements.

If you live in the Northeast like I do, or another area with lots of debris/woods, this shelter is an excellent one to have in your mental toolkit.

How to Build a Debris Hut

Building a debris hut is actually a fairly simple process. If you live in an area with woods and debris then you’ll have everything you need to build one of these shelters. The key is, you should be able to find all your materials off of the ground.

In other words you want dead materials.

You don’t want to start cutting down perfectly live trees for this not to mention that being a waste of energy.

Here’s the process:

Step 1: Find an area with lots of debris. As I mentioned before, this shelter is ideal for an area that naturally has a bunch of debris and woods. While this can be built in less than ideal locations, it will be well…less than ideal and take longer to build. Leaves, long grasses, pine-needles, and so on are all excellent for use with this type of shelter.

You’ll even find a good amount of debris under a thin layer of snow:

Step 2: Find a ridge pole almost twice as long as you are high. The straighter the better, however even a crooked one like this will be effective.

Step 3: Prop up the ridge pole. Using two “Y” shaped sticks, the next step is prop up the ridge pole so it sits about crotch height. Be sure you use sturdy sticks (at minimum the size of your wrist) that aren’t brittle or rotting.

It helps to lie under the ridge pole to make sure that there is a descent amount of head and shoulder room to move a little bit at night.


Step 4: Build the framework – Next, using sticks anywhere from two-finger to wrist thickness, create “ribbing” perpendicular along the entire length of the ridge pole.


Step 5: Add “stick debris” to the structure – In this step you want to gather a bunch of stick debris and place it all over the structure.


Step 6: Place debris over the shelter – Gather a whole bunch of debris like leaves, pine needles, long grass etc and pile it on top of and in the shelter.

Step 7: Create a thick bedding – After filling the cavity with debris, climb into the shelter and flatten out the debris on the shelter floor. Repeat this at least 3 times to make a thick comfortable, insulative bedding.

Step 8: Plug up the shelter – When you’re ready to retire for the night, pull in a bunch of leaves with you into the shelter, surrounding yourself with leaves (if it’s really cold) and plugging the entrance — effectively creating a cocoon of leaves.

My Test Results and Observations

Was I able to get through the night without a sleeping bag in 20 degree weather?

Partly.

I actually made it most of the night without the need for anything extra. I hit the sack around 9PM and slept soundly until around 3am. I must have moved too much during the night because the leaves I had on top of me had eventually fallen off and so there was a gap of air above me that was starting chill me.

At that point I grabbed the sleeping bag and slept through the rest of the night.

Would I have been able to survive the night without the bag?

Yes. However it would’ve been uncomfortable.

The issue was I did not have enough leaves on top of the shelter to really contain and hold the heat radiating from my body. There were plenty of leaves below and beside me since my back, bottom and sides were nice and warm. Above me was the issue.

I’m going to try this shelter when we get some colder weather again (right now it’s pretty mild). For the next time though I’ll need to make sure I put twice as much leaves on top.

It’s important that the colder it is, the more debris you have over the shelter. Ideally, from the top of the ridge pole, you want at least one arm’s-length of debris covering it for these colder temps.

How to Make Yogurt from Powdered Milk

February 27, 2013

I’m a big fan of yogurt, especially the thicker kind like Greek yogurt. If I had to go without it during TEOTWAWKI you might as well end my world right then and there.

…kidding.

But really, I love yogurt and if you’re like me then you probably would like to have it around after the SHTF. If that’s the case, it’s definitely a good idea to learn how to make it NOW…especially from your long-term food stores.

Speaking of long-term food storage, hopefully you guys are working on building your long-term food stores (if not, check out Prepper Academy to get exact step-by-step details into how to build up a solid food-storage plan as well as master the other aspects of prepping).

As part of your long-term stores, I HIGHLY recommend having powdered milk. Besides obviously reconstituting it to have milk, there are quite a variety of things you can make from it like different cheeses, “sour creams”, and yes, even yogurt.

Having Yogurt Post SHTF

The key with making yogurt from your food storage is to have a starting yogurt culture available. This can be easily acquired by purchasing yogurt from the store.

Once you make your own yogurt from the instructions below, you can continue to make yogurt by saving a little off from the previous batch, continuing this process for as long as you’d like to have yogurt.

Making yogurt from powdered milk is actually a simple process:

How to Make Yogurt from Powdered Milk

What You Need

  • Powdered milk
  • Yogurt (w/ active cultures)
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Mason jar (or similar)
  • “Yogurt Incubator” – This can be many things. Basically you want something that will maintain a steady temp of around 100°F – 150°F for 3-4 hours. In my example I use an Excalibur dehydrator but you can also use a crockpot, a slow cooker or even a large pot filled with water on a very low heat (this must be monitored).Your yogurt mixture can be placed in a jar which is then placed in the warm environment (like with the example shown here or immersing the jar in water that is kept at a warm temp) or you can place the mixture directly in the cooker (like in a crockpot or slow cooker).

Making Yogurt – Step-by-Step

Step 1: Reconstitute powdered milk. In a pot, add 2 cups of water to 1 cup of powdered milk and stir until mixed thoroughly (this is stronger than how you would normally reconstitute the milk).
Step 2: Heat milk. Using a thermometer for accuracy, heat milk to 180°F.
Step 3: Remove milk from heat. After reaching 180°F remove the milk from the heat source and let it stand until it reaches a temp of 110°F.
Step 4: Mix in yogurt. Using store-bought yogurt w/ active cultures (or from a previously made batch) thoroughly mix in two tablespoons into the warm milk and pour mixture into your jar. Here’s what you want to see when reading the labels on your store-bought yogurt:
Step 5: Place yogurt mixture in warm environment. Using your incubator of choice, place your yogurt mixture in it and try to maintain a temp of around 100°F – 150°F. I place my jar in an Excalibur food dehydrator with the trays removed at a setting of 115°F. Yes I do close the door (not shown in this pic)
During a SHTF type of situation I could use my hot-water canner and place the jar in there (NOT AT BOILING TEMPS THOUGH). You would need to babysit it quite a bit to ensure that the temps don’t get higher than 150°F.
Step 6: Remove yogurt from incubator. After around 3 to 4 hours, check on your yogurt to ensure it has coagulated (just look, don’t stir or disturb!). At this point there may be a small amount of whey separation on top (hard to see in this picture). If so just pour that little bit off and enjoy your yogurt while warm or refrigerate for normal cold yogurt.
(optional) Step 7: Make Greek-style yogurt. To make a thicker yogurt like Greek-style yogurt, just pour your yogurt in a cheesecloth, coffee filter, or even a cotton t-shirt and hang it over the sink for a couple hours (until the thickness reaches your liking).
Step 8: Flavor (if desired) and enjoy!. If you’ve made Greek yogurt, keep in mind you’ll lose about half the volume of the original batch (my two-cup recipe in this example made around 1 cup of Greek yogurt).

Troubleshooting Failed Yogurt

If after 4 hours you still don’t have any coagulation, then it’s likely your yogurt has failed. Here are some possible reasons for failure:

  • Your starting yogurt culture was dead before you used it. Be sure to purchase or use fresh yogurt with active cultures.
  • You killed the yogurt culture. You possibly added the yogurt to too hot milk (didn’t wait until it reached 115°F before adding) or you killed it in your incubator. In either case, ensure the temp of the culture never reaches much over 150°F.
  • You disturbed the yogurt while it was “incubating”. Do not mix, stir or otherwise heavily disturb the developing yogurt. It’s ok to visually check it or move it VERY SLIGHTLY to ensure it has set.
  • Yogurt was in the incubator too long. If the yogurt has separated quite a bit and is bubbly, you likely kept it in the incubator too long.

Lovat Scouts, Sharpshooters – United Kingdom

February 27, 2013


Lord Lovat, and his Scouts, were a specialized scout/observing unit that came from Scotland. The Lovat Scouts originated in about 1899 and began their very distinquished history as some of the best scouts and observers in the world. This reputation continued to grow during World Ward I as well. It was in October of 1916 that the formation of the ‘Lovat Scout, Sharpshooter’ unit happened with the intention of using this specialized Lovat unit as a specialized sniper organization, but it was quickly determined that a 200 man Lovat Scout, Sharpshooter unit was too small to be effective as a stand alone sniping unit and they were too specialized and valuable to give up their observation and stalking skills. It was at that point that Hesketh-Prichard helped reorganize the Lovat Sharpshooters to utilize them as ‘glassmen’ and observers and they were attached to various units as such. They were also assigned to the various sniper schools as stalking and observing instructors to pass along those very specialized and important skills to the snipers.

Organization:
The Lovat Scouts, Sharpshooters were organized into ten platoons, each platoon consisting of an Officer and 21 NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officer) and other enlisted ranks, making a total of 220 men. Each platoon was then attached to the different Army Corps and then the individual scouts were tasked out to the units within the Corp as needed.

Conflicts of Deployment:
The Lovat Scouts were primarily used during the Boar War and World War I. There was also some Lovat Scouts during World War II but they were not the same type of unit as the Lovats from earlier.

Sniper Rifles:
None. They were initially intended to use the standard sniping version of the Short, Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) rifle.

Distinction:
The main distinction of the Lovat Scout, Sharpshooter unit and the reason why they are included in our list of distinquisable sniping units is not because of their combat sniping successes, but because they introduced the world of sniping to the Ghillie Suit and to specialized stalking skills. The Lovats came from Scotland and consisted of many Ghillies, or Scottish Game Wardens, who used a specialized suit, called a Ghillie Suit which consisted of strips of cloth being attached to an outter jacket. This same basic Ghillie suit concept is still used by snipers today, 100 years after the Lovat’s used them for the first time.

Another item of distrinction for the Lovat Scouts was their skill in observation. Using nothing but a 20x spotting scope, it was accepted that a Lovat Scout could observer troop movement in great detail at a distance of 10 miles and report on activity at distances up to 15 miles. The legendary Hesketh-Prichard was quoted as saying about the Lovat Scouts that “keener men never lived” and that “If they reported a thing, the thing was as they reported it.”

The legacy that the Lovat’s introduced to modern sniping with the introduction of advanced stalking skills, exceptional observation ability, and especially the Ghillie Suit, firmly puts them in a place of history in the tradition of military sniping.

Al-Qaeda manual on how to deceive unmanned drones found in Mali

February 22, 2013

AQIM forces in Mali
A detailed manual with instructions on how to defeat the surveillance capabilities of unmanned drones has been found in a former al-Qaeda hideout in northern Mali. International news agency The Associated Press said the photocopied document, which is written in Arabic, had been left behind in a building previously occupied by members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The militants abandoned the document while fleeing into the Sahara desert, ahead of a French military advance on the town of Timbuktu. The document is believed to have been authored by Abdallah bin Muhammad, the operational name of a Yemeni militant serving as a senior commander in the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Its earliest known date of publication is June 2, 2011, on an online Islamist forum. Since that time, it has reappeared at least three times, all in Arabic, according to The Associated Press. The version of the manual found in Mali contains nearly two dozen detailed tips on how to deceive unmanned drones. One tip advises covering the tops of vehicles with floor mats made of hay or other natural-looking material, in an effort to confuse aerial surveillance systems. Another tip proposes camouflaging the roofs of buildings with the use of reflective glass, so as to render them invisible to aerial surveillance. A third suggestion is to mix sugar with water and dirt and apply the sticky mixture onto the body of vehicles, in order to confuse the imagery sensors of unmanned drones. The manual also urges al-Qaeda units to use poles and cloth to form natural-looking carports for hiding vehicles at night and prevent their metallic surfaces from reflecting the light of the moon. Associated Press reporter Rukmini Callimachi, who authored the story, said local sources confirmed that AQIM forces employed several of the manual’s instructions as they were fleeing into northern Mali. They included use of floor mats and the application of mud mixed with sugar to camouflage vehicles. She added that the discovery of the manual in the West African country shows that AQIM forces “anticipated a military intervention that would make use of drones”. Furthermore, it points to a degree of coordination between various al-Qaeda branches around the Muslim world, which ought to be a source of concern, she wrote.

US held secret meetings with North Korea after Kim Jong Il’s death

February 22, 2013

North and South Korea
Senior United States officials traveled secretly to North Korea for talks on at least two occasions following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, according to a leading Japanese newspaper. Quoting unnamed sources from Japan, South Korea and the United States, the Tokyo-based Asahi Shimbun newspaper said last week that the American officials traveled on US military airplanes from an Air Force base on the Pacific island of Guam to North Korean capital Pyongyang. According to the paper, the visits, which took place on April 7 and August 18-20, 2012, were kept secret from both the South Korea and Japanese governments. It appears, however, that Tokyo found out about the secret flights after it was approached by amateur air traffic hobbyists, who noticed the Pyongyang-bound flights out of Guam. After analyzing air traffic patterns, officials at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign affairs contacted the US Department of State inquiring about the mystery flights. Incredibly, however, Washington refused to discuss the flights with its Japanese ally, citing national security concerns. Eventually, says Asahi, the State Department acknowledged one of the visits, but responded to persistent Japanese pressure by warning Tokyo that further inquiries on the subject “would harm bilateral relations” between Japan and the US. The Japanese daily claims that the secret flights carried a host of senior US officials, including Joseph DeTrani, then chief of the North Koran desk at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Sydney Seiler, Korea policy chief at the White House National Security Council. They allegedly met with some of North Korea’s most powerful and influential political apparatchiks, including Jang Song Thaek, who is married to the late Kim Jong Il’s younger sister. Jaek, who is Vice Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea, is widely seen as the political mentor of the current Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un. Japanese and American government spokespeople refused to comment on the Asahi allegations.

New information emerges on Hezbollah commander’s assassination

February 21, 2013

Imad Mughniyah
A Lebanese newspaper has published the most detailed account to date of the 2008 assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah. The car explosion that killed Mughniyah in Syrian capital Damascus on February 12, 2008, is widely believed to have been the work of the Mossad, Israel’s foremost covert-action agency. Mughniyah was among the founders of Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group that controls large parts of southern Lebanon. At the time of his assassination, Mughniyah headed the Hezbollah’s security apparatus and was among the organization’s most senior intelligence officials. On Tuesday, Arabic-language newspaper al-Akhbar , which is based in Lebanese capital Beirut and is informally affiliated with Hezbollah, published a detailed article that reads like an unclassified version of the militant group’s internal investigation into Mughniyah’s killing. The article claims that “Hezbollah is absolutely positive that Israel was behind […] the operation from A to Z”. It says that Mughniyah’s assassins “were not Syrian citizens”, but rather entered Syria from abroad and stayed there six weeks while planning and executing the assassination operation. The article also claims that the Mossad recruited a Syrian expatriate, who visited Damascus on a regular basis in order to provide logistical support for the operation. This included renting a villa in the outskirts of Damascus and purchasing at least three vehicles to be used in the operation. The al-Akhbar report states that Mugniyah was killed at 10:25 p.m., as he was leaving an organizational meeting with leaders of the Palestinian group Hamas in the Kfar Suseh neighborhood of Damascus. As the Hezbollah commander approached his car, another car parked nearby, a 2006 Mitsubishi Pajero, exploded killing him instantly. This differs from accounts that emerged shortly after Mughniyah’s assassination, which claimed that the Hezbollah strongman had been killed by explosives planted inside the headrest of his car’s driver’s seat. Al-Akhbar claims that the Mossad team that killed Mugniyah was able to monitor the operation from inside a nearby building that was under construction at the time. The paper’s report concludes that Hezbollah’s mistake was treating Syria as “one of the safest places” for its commanders, and presuming that Israel would not target Syria with direct operations.

Did Aussies ‘burn’ Israel’s Prisoner X and was he also a British citizen?

February 20, 2013

Ben Zygier
As intriguing questions continue to mount about the case of Israel’s so-called ‘Prisoner X’, the flow of verifiable information from official channels in Australia and Israel has slowed to a trickle. However, two important analyses appeared over the weekend, which could potentially place the incarceration and subsequent death of Ben Zygier under new light. One claims that the Australian-born Israeli was a low-level Mossad operative who did not commit any serious crime —let along high treason. The other suggests that Zygier might have held British citizenship, in addition to being a dual Australian and Israeli citizen, and that the British government might have been privy to the information regarding his arrest and subsequent incarceration in Israel’s Ayalon prison. In an article for Ynet, the online outlet for Israel’s high-selling newspaper Yediot Ahronot, veteran security correspondent Ron Ben-Yishai posits that Zygier was simply a “support operative” for the Mossad, adding that he “did not commit treason”. Instead, says Ben-Yishai, Zygier was probably arrested by the Israelis because they suspected he might have given, or might consider giving, information about forged Australian passports to Canberra. The Mossad decided to detain him after he told them he had been contacted by Australian journalist Jason Koutskoukis in late 2009 and asked whether he was a Mossad operative. Koutsoukis was tipped-off by Australian counterintelligence, which suspected Zygier of supplying the Mossad with Australian passports in his possession. It was the stigma of being considered a traitor by his own people that drove Zygier —a passionate Zionist— to suicide, claims Ben-Yishai. In his article, he seems to reprimand Australian intelligence for “burning” an Australian citizen by leaking information about him to the Australian press, and then remaining conspicuously silent when Zygier ended up in solitary confinement inside a maximum-security Israeli prison. Another interesting piece, by Al-Monitor’s Laura Rozen, asks the question whether Zygier also held British citizenship at the time of his death. Rozen notes that Koutsoukis, the Australian journalist who contacted Zygier in late 2009, had been told by his Australian intelligence sources that Zygier “had also previously come on the radar of British intelligence for taking out a passport in a new name”. Does that mean, she asks, that the Mossad operative also held British citizenship? And if so, does this mean that the British government —or at least British intelligence— knew of Zygier’s fate following his detention in Israel? Could it be, therefore, that a third country, after Australia and Israel, may be turn out to be involved in this macabre episode before too long?

First interview in 57 years for chief of Germany’s most secretive spy agency

February 20, 2013

Ulrich Birkenheier
The head of the German military’s counterintelligence service, which is widely seen as the country’s most secretive intelligence organization, has given the first public media interview in the agency’s 57-year history. Most readers of this blog will be aware of the Federal Republic of Germany’s two best-known intelligence agencies: the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), tasked with domestic intelligence, and the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the country’s primary external intelligence agency. Relatively little is known, however, about the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD), which has historically been much smaller and quieter than its sister agencies. As part of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, the MAD is tasked with conducting counterintelligence and detecting what it terms “anti-constitutional activities” within the German armed forces. It is currently thought to consist of around 1,200 staff located throughout Germany and in at least seven countries around the world, including Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Djibouti. Until recently, the MAD was so secret that its headquarters, located in the west German city of Cologne, bore no sign on the door. For generations, its senior leadership remained unnamed in the public domain. This changed on Monday, when Ulrich Birkenheier became the first Director of MAD to speak publicly in the nearly six decades of the agency’s existence. Birkenheier, who assumed the leadership of MAD in July of 2012, told German newspaper Die Welt that it was time for a “paradigm shift” and that the agency felt the need “to explain [its] task and work to the outside world”. In his interview, Birkenheier explained that members of the German armed forces are routinely targeted by foreign intelligence agencies, while far-right extremist groups are represented in the ranks of the German military. MAD’s job, he said, is to address these concerns from a counterintelligence perspective. But Birkenheier stressed that MAD’s greatest and growing challenge is “espionage conducted against international defense projects” by foreign intelligence operatives who try to penetrate scientific and technical trials of German weapons systems. He also went so far as to name the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China as his organization’s primary adversaries in the realm of military espionage. Both these countries operate intelligence agencies that “are still trying to recruit German soldiers” on a regular basis, said Birkenheier. He closed his interview by stating that MAD will soon launch a public press office specializing in interfacing with the news media and addressing “the rising public interest” in the organization.