INTEL TODAY DIARY — June 22 2017

Brussels bomb suspect was Moroccan and ‘known to police’ — Despite Concerns About Blackmail, Flynn Heard C.I.A. Secrets — Russian defence minister’s plane ‘buzzed’ by Nato jet — Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership

Security is tight around Brussels Central Station

Brussels bomb suspect was Moroccan and ‘known to police’ — BBC

A man suspected of setting off a bomb at Brussels Central Station on Tuesday has been identified as a 36-year-old Moroccan from a city district that has spawned a number of jihadist attackers.

The suspect came from Molenbeek and was carrying a bomb armed with nails and gas canisters, officials said.

He was shot and later died after the explosion, which is being treated as a terrorist attack.

He was known to police but had not been linked to terrorism, reports said.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters that a “terrorist attack had been

 Prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt said the suspect, identified only by his initials O.Z., had approached a group of passengers beneath the main concourse and attempted to blow up his suitcase. It partially exploded and caught fire before blowing up a second time.

The man had then run towards a station-master and then targeted a soldier, screaming “Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)”, before being shot. He was not wearing a suicide belt.

He later died of his injuries and his home in Molenbeek was searched by special forces in the early hours of Wednesday.

Many of the jihadists involved in the 2016 Brussels bombings and the Paris attacks in November 2015 came from the Belgian capital, and several from Molenbeek in particular.

Despite Concerns About Blackmail, Flynn Heard C.I.A. Secrets — NYT

WASHINGTON — Senior officials across the government became convinced in January that the incoming national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had become vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

At the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — agencies responsible for keeping American secrets safe from foreign spies — career officials agreed that Mr. Flynn represented an urgent problem.

Yet nearly every day for three weeks, the new C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, sat in the Oval Office and briefed President Trump on the nation’s most sensitive intelligence — with Mr. Flynn listening. Mr. Pompeo has not said whether C.I.A. officials left him in the dark about their views of Mr. Flynn, but one administration official said Mr. Pompeo did not share any concerns about Mr. Flynn with the president.

The episode highlights a remarkable aspect of Mr. Flynn’s tumultuous, 25-day tenure in the White House: He sat atop a national security apparatus that churned ahead despite its own conclusion that he was at risk of being compromised by a hostile foreign power.

The concerns about Mr. Flynn’s vulnerabilities, born from misleading statements he made to White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, are at the heart of a legal and political storm that has engulfed the Trump administration. Many of Mr. Trump’s political problems, including the appointment of a special counsel and the controversy over the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, can ultimately be traced to Mr. Flynn’s stormy tenure.

Russian defence minister’s plane ‘buzzed’ by Nato jet — BBC

A Nato fighter jet has approached a Russian plane carrying the defence minister but was chased away by a Russian escort jet, Russian media say.

They say the incident happened in international airspace over the Baltic when Sergei Shoigu was flying to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

Nato later said it had tracked Russian planes but they did not identify themselves.

The US earlier said a Russian jet flew within 5ft (1.5m) of a US spy plane.

American officials blamed Russia for the “unsafe” encounter on Monday – again over the Baltic.

But Moscow responded by saying that the reconnaissance plane had made a “provocative” move.

Dozens of similar incidents have been reported in the past few years, with Nato and Russia blaming each other for aggressive intercepts in the strategically important region.

Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership — Bloomberg

Robert Mueller is examining whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice when he fired James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Washington Post recently reported. As we’ve heard for months now, there is also a probe of possible collusion between Trump’s campaign team and the Kremlin to tilt the 2016 election in the president’s favor.

But the Justice Department inquiry led by Mueller now has added flavors. The Post noted that the investigation also includes “suspicious financial activity” involving “Russian operatives.” The New York Times was more specific in its account, saying that Mueller is looking at whether Trump associates laundered financial payoffs from Russian officials by channeling them through offshore accounts.

Trump has repeatedly labeled Comey’s and Mueller’s investigations “witch hunts,” and his lawyers have said that the last decade of his tax returns (which the president has declined to release) would show that he had no income or loans from Russian sources. In May, Trump told NBC that he has no property or investments in Russia. “I am not involved in Russia,” he said.

But that doesn’t address national security and other problems that might arise for the president if Russia is involved in Trump, either through potentially compromising U.S. business relationships or through funds that flowed into his wallet years ago. In that context, a troubling history of Trump’s dealingswith Russians exists outside of Russia: in a dormant real-estate development firm, the Bayrock Group, which once operated just two floors beneath the president’s own office in Trump Tower.

Bayrock partnered with the future president and his two eldest children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, on a series of real-estate deals between 2002 and about 2011, the most prominent being the troubled Trump Soho hotel and condominium in Manhattan.

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INTEL TODAY DIARY — June 22 2017

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