FBI warns of Potential Ransomware attacks on Food and Agriculture sector

Rev 6:6 NAS “And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Ransomware Attacks on Agricultural Cooperatives, Potentially Timed to Critical Seasons
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is informing Food and Agriculture (FA) sector partners that ransomware actors may be more likely to attack agricultural cooperatives during critical planting and harvest seasons, disrupting operations, causing financial loss, and negatively impacting the food supply chain.

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Intelligence Community Testify Before Congress on Rising Danger of Russia

Matthew 24:6 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.”

Important Takeaways:

  • CIA, DIA, NSA, FBI Testify on Rising Danger of Russia Lashing Out: ‘Putin Is Angry and Frustrated Right Now’
  • The nation’s top intelligence chiefs testify before Congress about major anticipated threats. Usually, the list tends to be more theoretical. This year, however, one has become reality.
  • “I think Putin is angry and frustrated right now. He is likely to double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military with no regard for civilian casualties,” said CIA Director William Burns.
  • She called Putin’s announcement of a heightened nuclear alert, “extremely unusual,” while adding that she believes it’s more of an attempt to deter Western involvement, than a signal he intends to go nuclear.
  • Still, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, LTG. Scott Berrier, cautioned against underestimating the Russian president.
  • “When he says something we should listen very, very carefully and take him at his word,” Berrier said.

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Beijing’s agents ‘more brazen, more dangerous’ than ever before, bureau head says

Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Important Takeaways:

  • FBI chief Wray: China engaged in large-scale hacking operations targeting U.S. tech
  • Mr. Wray argued Beijing is using its global reach and market power “to steal and threaten, rather than to cooperate and build.”
  • “That theft, those threats, are happening right here in America, literally every day,” he said.
  • The threat is not just economic, as it also poses a challenge to American freedom, the FBI chief said.
  • He noted that there are more than 2,000 FBI investigations focused on Chinese efforts to steal U.S. information and technology
  • The Chinese government steals staggering volumes of information and causes deep, job-destroying damage across a wide range of industries, so much so that we’re constantly opening new cases to counter their intelligence operations about every 12 hours.”

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Mainstream Conservatives likened to Terrorists

Isiah 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Important Takeaways:

  • Disgraced FBI No. 2 Andrew McCabe Calls For Feds To Treat ‘Mainstream’ Conservatives Like Domestic Terrorists
  • McCabe was fired as the deputy FBI director for leaking sensitive information about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation and then lying about it under oath. He also took part in spying on the Donald Trump campaign through a secret warrant granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.
    • Conservatives Are in The Same Category As Islamic Terrorists
    • Parents at School Board Meetings Pose A ‘Threat To National Security’
    • McCabe Wants More Surveillance of ‘Mainstream’ Conservatives
    • McCabe Believes No One Is Above The Law (Except Himself)
      • Ironically, McCabe’s firing for repeatedly breaking the law was expunged from the record only because he settled with a partisan Biden Department of Justice. If no one is above the law, as McCabe claims to support, then he would be in jail.

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U.S. FBI calls ‘anomalous health incidents’ a top priority

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Wednesday the issue of “anomalous health incidents” – widely known as Havana Syndrome – is a top priority and it will continue to investigate the cause of such incidents and how to protect staff.

Around 200 U.S. diplomats, officials and family members overseas are believed to have been struck by the mysterious ailment – with symptoms including migraines, nausea, memory lapses and dizziness. It was first reported among U.S. officials in the Cuban capital in 2016.

“The issue of anomalous health incidents is a top priority for the FBI, as the protection, health and well-being of our employees and colleagues across the federal government is paramount,” the FBI said in a statement.

It added that it would keep working with the intelligence community to “identify the cause of these incidents and determine how we can best protect our personnel.”

Sufferers and lawmakers have criticized U.S. agencies, saying they have not taken the illness seriously enough. Current and former U.S. officials said the FBI historically had been skeptical about the existence of Havana Syndrome.

“The FBI takes all U.S. government personnel who report symptoms seriously,” the FBI statement said, adding it had messaged its staff on how to respond and how to report if they experience an incident, and where they can receive medical treatment.

Lawyer Mark Zaid, who represents Havana Syndrome victims, said historically the FBI had “been less than helpful, particularly by claiming victims are suffering psychosomatic symptoms even though they never interviewed the individuals…I suspect that is about to change.”

To lead an agency task force on Havana Syndrome, CIA director William Burns recently chose a career undercover spy who participated in the search that led to the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

A U.S. government source said U.S. agencies do not currently have a solid view of the syndrome’s cause but that investigating its origins and spread has been a high priority for the CIA.

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by David Gregorio)

Haiti gang seeks $1 million per person for kidnapped missionaries

(Reuters) -A Haitian gang that kidnapped a group of American and Canadian missionaries is asking for $17 million — or $1 million each — to release them, according to a top Haitian official.

Justice Minister Liszt Quitel told Reuters that talks were underway with kidnappers to seek the release of the missionaries abducted over the weekend outside the capital Port-au-Prince by a gang called 400 Mawozo.

The minister confirmed the hefty ransom fee, telling Reuters “they asked for $1 million per person.” The fee was first reported by the Wall Street Journal earlier in the day.

CNN reported earlier on Tuesday the kidnappers first called Christian Aid Ministries – the group to which the victims belonged – on Saturday and immediately conveyed the price tag for the missionaries release. The FBI and Haitian police were advising the group in negotiations, the minister said.

Several calls between the kidnappers and the missionary group have taken place since their disappearance, the minister told CNN.

The Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries called for prayers for the “Haitian and American civil authorities who are working to resolve this situation” in a statement.

The group of 16 Americans and 1 Canadian includes six women and five children, including an eight-month old baby, the missionary organization said. They were abducted in an area called Croix-des-Bouquets, about 8 miles (13 km) outside the capital, which is dominated by the 400 Mawozo gang.

Five priests and two nuns, including two French citizens, were abducted in April in Croix-des-Bouquets and were released later that month.

Quitel told the Wall Street Journal that a ransom was paid for the release of two of those priests.

Kidnappings have become more brazen and commonplace in Haiti amid a growing political and economic crisis, with at least 628 incidents in the first nine months of 2021 alone, according to a report by the Haitian nonprofit Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, or CARDH.

Haitians on Monday mounted a nationwide strike to protest gang crime and kidnappings, which have been on the rise for years and have worsened since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

Shops were open again on Tuesday in Port-au-Prince and public transportation had starting circulating again. Transport sector leaders had pushed for the strike, in part because transport workers are frequent targets of gang kidnappings.

The FBI said in a statement on Monday that it is part of a U.S. government effort to get the Americans involved to safety.

Kidnappings in Haiti rarely involved foreigners.

The victims are usually middle-class Haitians who cannot afford bodyguards but can nonetheless put together a ransom by borrowing money from family or selling property.

The growing crisis in Haiti has also become a major issue for the United States. A wave of thousands of Haitian migrants arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border last month, but many were deported to their home country shortly after.

(Reporting by Daniel Flynn, Brian Ellsworth and Gessika Thomas; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Alistair Bell)

FBI involved in effort to recover U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti – source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The FBI will assist in the investigation and efforts to locate and free a group of U.S. Christian missionaries who have been kidnapped and are being held by a criminal gang in Haiti, a U.S. law enforcement official told Reuters on Monday.

The Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries organization on Sunday said a group of its missionaries had been kidnapped in Haiti. The group includes 16 Americans and one Canadian.

They were in Haiti to visit an orphanage when their bus was hijacked on Saturday outside the capital Port-au-Prince, according to accounts by other missionaries, amid a spike in kidnappings following the murder of President Jovenel Moise.

The incident is a further sign the Caribbean nation’s gangs are growing increasingly brazen amid political and economic crises.

Specific details of the role the FBI will play in trying to free the missionaries were not immediately available. The FBI’s national press office said in a statement it was referring questions on the kidnapping to the State Department.

Representatives of key congressional committees overseeing foreign affairs and law enforcement said they had not been briefed on FBI involvement in efforts to locate and free the missionaries.

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Former U.S. Navy engineer, wife face judge in submarine espionage case

By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A former U.S. Navy nuclear engineer and his wife on Tuesday faced their first court hearing on charges they attempted to sell secrets about nuclear submarines to a foreign power in exchange for cryptocurrency.

Wearing orange prison jumpsuits, they briefly appeared at a federal courthouse in Martinsburg, West Virginia, for a formal reading of the criminal charges against them. They have not yet been asked to enter a plea to the charges.

Jonathan Toebbe and his wife, Diana, were arrested on Saturday in Jefferson County, West Virginia, following a yearlong sting operation by undercover FBI agents, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Toebbe, 42, a nuclear engineer with top-secret security clearance, is accused of sending Navy documents to an unnamed foreign entity in 2020, along with instructions for how to obtain additional information.

The Toebbes did not speak other than to briefly answer the judge’s questions, indicating they understood their rights.

The Justice Department did not name the country involved.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble scheduled a court hearing for Friday on the Justice Department’s request that the Toebbes be jailed while they await trial.

The Toebbes will remain in jail while they await Friday’s hearing.

No lawyer was present for the couple at Tuesday’s initial 15-minute court appearance. The judge told them they qualify for court-appointed legal counsel.

Toebbe, with the aid of his 45-year-old wife, allegedly sold secrets to an undercover FBI agent posing as a foreign official over the course of several months, the Justice Department said.

At one point, Toebbe hid a digital memory card containing documents about submarine nuclear reactors in half a peanut butter sandwich at a “dead drop” location in West Virginia while his wife acted as lookout, the Justice Department said.

The memory card contained “militarily sensitive design elements, operating parameters and performance characteristics of Virginia-class submarine reactors,” according to a federal court affidavit.

Another memory card was concealed in a chewing gum package, the Justice Department said.

Toebbe received separate cryptocurrency payments totaling $100,000, according to the Justice Department.

Officials said Toebbe and his wife, who are from Annapolis, Maryland, were arrested after placing another memory card at a drop site in West Virginia. They were charged with conspiracy and “communication of restricted data,” according to a criminal complaint.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Sandra Maler and Jonathan Oatis)

Haiti former first lady calls for help in unraveling husband’s murder

By Dave Sherwood

(Reuters) – The widow of Haiti’s slain President Jovenel Moise called on the international community to help track down those responsible for gunning down her husband in a late night raid by suspected mercenaries at the couple’s home in July.

Moise’s assassination plunged the Caribbean nation, already plagued by hunger and gang violence, further into chaos, and triggered a hunt for the masterminds across the Americas.

Wearing a black dress and sling following the injuries she suffered during the attack, Martine Moise told Reuters in a room flanked by bodyguards on Monday that while Haitian authorities had made some advances, she feared progress had slowed.

“I feel that the process is… stalling a little,” she said. “The people that did this are still out there, and I don’t know if their name will ever be out. Every country that can help, please help.”

Nearly two months after the July 7 assassination of her husband, key aspects of the murder remain shrouded in mystery. Haitian police have arrested more than three dozen suspects, including 18 Colombian mercenaries, an obscure Haitian-American doctor they say aspired to be president, and the head of Moise’s security team.

But they have made public little in the way of evidence.

“Those people (they have arrested) did it, but someone gave the orders, someone gave the money,” Moise told Reuters.

She said she had spoken twice with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and felt they could “find the people that financed that odious crime.”

As security worries have dogged the investigation in Haiti, one judge investigating the case stepped down, citing concerns for his safety.

First lady Moise said Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who is also now dealing with the aftermath of an August earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people, must call for elections as soon as possible to ensure stability.

“I think the advice that my husband would give him (is) try to have an election. With the election you can have peace, you can think long term,” she said.

Elections initially slated for September have been postponed until November, and some have speculated they could be delayed further following the quake.

“If they want elections to happen, (they) will,” said Moise.

Moise confirmed previous comments she had made in interviews on her interest in running for president herself but said that she would take care of her family first.

“I want to run for president. I won’t let the vision of the president die with him. With the earthquake too, there’s a lot to be done in Haiti,” she said.

HAITI RUMOR MILL

Amid the ongoing investigation and arrests, conspiracy theories about the murder in Haiti have swirled for weeks.

Friends of the murdered president have told Reuters he feared for his life immediately before he was killed.

His wife on Monday said he had not talked to her of a specific plot against him.

“If he knew he would talk about it… but he never did,” she said. “Because having Colombians, having soldiers here in Haiti, they are here for something.”

She denied social media rumors that Moise had squirreled away millions in cash in his official residence in the upscale suburb of Petion-Ville.

“It is a president. There is some money. But the amount of $48 million that I heard in social media, that can’t be true. Where in the room (can you stick) $48 million?”

(Reporting by Dave Sherwood, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

FBI probe shows amount of chemicals in Beirut blast was a fraction of original shipment

(Reuters) – The amount of ammonium nitrate that blew up at Beirut port last year was one fifth of the shipment unloaded there in 2013, the FBI concluded after the blast, adding to suspicions that much of the cargo had gone missing.

As the first anniversary approaches on Aug. 4, major questions remain unanswered, including how a huge quantity of ammonium nitrate – which can be used to make fertilizer or bombs – was left unsafely stored in a capital city for years.

The blast was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded, killing more than 200 people, wounding thousands, and devastating swathes of Beirut.

The FBI’s Oct. 7, 2020 report, which was seen by Reuters this week, estimates around 552 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded that day, much less than the 2,754 tonnes that arrived on a Russian-leased cargo ship in 2013.

The FBI report does not give any explanation as to how the discrepancy arose, or where the rest of the shipment may have gone.

In response to a detailed request for comment, an FBI spokesperson referred Reuters to the Lebanese authorities.

FBI investigators came to Beirut after the blast at Lebanon’s request.

A senior Lebanese official who was aware of the FBI report and its findings said the Lebanese authorities agreed with the Bureau on the quantity that exploded.

Many officials in Lebanon have previously said in private they believe a lot of the shipment was stolen.

The ammonium nitrate was going from Georgia to Mozambique on a Russian-leased cargo ship when the captain says he was instructed to make an unscheduled stop in Beirut and take on extra cargo.

The ship arrived in Beirut in November 2013 but never left, becoming tangled in a legal dispute over unpaid port fees and ship defects. No one ever came forward to claim the shipment.

The senior Lebanese official said there were no firm conclusions as to why the quantity that exploded was less than the original shipment. One theory was that part of it was stolen. A second theory was that only part of the shipment detonated, with the rest blown out to sea, the official said.

The FBI report said “an approximate amount reaching around 552 metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded in warehouse 12.”

It noted the warehouse was large enough to house the 2,754 tonne shipment, which was stored in one-tonne bags, but added “it is not logical that all of them were present at the time of the explosion.”

(Editing by William Maclean)