A Swede was a secret agent working for three different countries

June 11, 2012

Spying against Sweden is increasing according to the Swedish Intelligence Agency (SÄPO). The Agency also suspects that at least 15 states are doing illegal surveillance in the country. The Daily News has reported that a Swedish man have been a secret informer for Libyan, British and Swedish intelligence services simultaneously. His code name is “Joseph” and he has on the regular basis reported Muslims as suspected terrorists.

Usually foreign spies target large Swedish firms and sensitive information on Swedish policies/politics. Another focus is given to spying on recent immigrant communities, and usually those who are political activists seeking asylum in Sweden. Regime critics and opposition activists who live in Sweden have regularly been threatened and their movements and activities traced.


The information about Joseph’s activities today is uncertain – he lives in a city in Sweden, he has children and officially his financial circumstances are highly limited. Despite that, he is regularly traveling across the world. AS recently as couple of weeks ago, he had visited his former homeland, Libya. This we his second trip since the fall of the regime. Moreover, according from the information from DN he had met with one of the rebel leaders Abdel Hakim Belhaj on his last trip.


Joseph claims that he is not an informant working for any of the mentioned states. “You are talking to the wrong guy here. Alright. You know nothing what this is all about,” he was reported to have said to a DN’s reporter. Howoever, a fax message from the British intelligence agency MI6 from 2003 is contradicting his claims. The message is a part of a set of documents gathered by Human Rights Watch in Libya in the wake of administrative vacuum followed by the fall of Qaddafi regime.


The MI6 document starts with the words, “Greetings from MI6 in London” and it is a four pages long document describing a meeting with “Joseph” in Manchester. It is dated December 11, 2003 with an address of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The fax message gives details about Joseph and how he was recruited by MI6. He had names of 11 Muslims from Sweden who he described as possible terrorists and accomplices. He also had a list of names of individual board members in a Muslim association in Sweden. The document further shows that Joseph had contacts with Qaddafi’s intelligence services (ESO) and the Swedish security agency (SÄPO). The document further hints that his first step has been to hand over the list of names to (MI6). The names of people he suspected to be “jihad sympathizers” in Sweden. MI6 in turn sent the list to Libya.


The DN had investigated the list and, at least, two individuals from the list more closely. The two persons have been in Joseph’s immediate closeness. Another individual was now deceased Muhammad Moumou (Abu Qaswarah) listed as a terrorist by both the United Nations and the European Union in 2006.


One of the most important question Joseph had posed is how is he to handle his contacts with the Swedish SÄPO. Joseph further wanted to inform MI6 about his contacts (with SÄPO), something MI6 was not interested in him doing. The Libyan ESO has, according to the document, been deeply aware of his informant status and work. Joseph had also been firmly instructed not to reveal his cooperation with other agencies to SÄPO. ESO and MI6 agreed that Joseph shall cancel his meetings with Swedes and inform them that he was ill.


”Joseph” is protected as a source by DN, however the newspaper’s reporters investigated into his real identity and could establish it after some time.  He is a 45-year old male who immigrated to Sweden in the end of 1980s from Libya. A few years later be became a citizen. He is registered to reside in a two-room apartment in a well-kept residential building. During some periods he worked as a store assistant. People familiar with Joseph describe him as secretive and suspicious of others. He could disappear without any explanation despite his limited funds on long expensive trips. He has even been convicted of domestic violence for beating up two of his earlier girlfriends. He has also been sentenced for theft and for making threats. Most recently he has been convicted of shoplifting.


Despite all of these issues he has established himself as a known figure in the Muslim community. “He knows people everywhere, in Stockholm, Malmö, Göteborg,” one of his acquaintances comments.


SÄPO never comments any individual cases, however, according to their annual rapport for 2011 Libya is one of the countries which has conducted intelligence gathering in Sweden during several years. On several occasions the Swedish authorities have deported Libyan spies. Furthermore, according to SÄPO persons as information sources are tremendously important in intelligence gathering (counterterrorism etc.)


According to Magnus Ranstrorp (researcher at the Swedish Defense College) it is unusual to be an agent for three separate intelligence agencies. “It is unusual since there are so many states involved, that is, that the Libyan regime and the British agency and even the Swedish (SÄPO) seem to have bilateral relationships to him (Joseph).”

Signed: Mattias Carlsson

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